Skip to Main Content

Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920)

David Gariff, senior lecturer, National Gallery of Art. Born in northern Italy, Amedeo Modigliani moved to Paris in 1906 at the age of 21 to immerse himself in the art of the day. His hero, Paul Cézanne, died the same year, and a retrospective in 1907 impressed the young artist: in his pocket he kept a picture of Cézanne’s Boy in a Red Waistcoat. Like Pablo Picasso, to whom he often compared himself, Modigliani was drawn to non-Western art, including Khmer and Egyptian works. As part of the series Celebrating the East Building: 20th-Century Art, this presentation by senior lecturer David Gariff on July 12, 2018, at the National Gallery of Art, discusses portraits of Modigliani’s fellow painter Chaim Soutine; Léon Bakst, designer for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes; and Renée Kisling, wife of the painter Moïse Kisling. Most of the paintings referenced were acquired by Chester Dale, a founding benefactor of the National Gallery of Art, whose 1963 bequest transformed the museum’s modern art collection. His wife Maud mounted exhibitions of Modigliani’s work and published one of the first scholarly monographs on the artist in 1929. This presentation was part of the series Celebrating the East Building: 20th-Century Art.