Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Modigliani and Murder and Montparnasse

Meet Corinne and Jean-Luc, the Art Cops, in their office in Paris.

They investigate the theft of art treasures in France. On the left you can see some of the recovered works of art stolen from French museums and private residences.

Yet when a body is found somewhere below Montparnasse
Near the cafe La Rotonde 
They leave it to la Police and Brigade Criminelle, the elite homicide squad.

In the past few years, and stepping up recently the  rash of bold daylight robberies from the Louvre and other museums worries Corinne and Jean-Luc. In a good year they might recover 10% of what's been stolen: masterpieces of sculpture, paintings and objects. Especially targeted for robbery are Modigliani's paintings.  His distinctive subjects with almond eyes and long necks lend themselves, so the Art Cops say, to forgeries. Above on the left is Modigliani's last studio. In 1920 he lived there with his eight month pregnant mistress without heat as he was penniless and in the last stages of the tuberculosis that claimed him.
Jeanne the woman pregnant with his child jumped off the roof after Modigliani's death to her own.
Modigliani and Jeanne had another daughter, two years old, who was being raised by a wet nurse in the country. After Modigliani's death, he'd only had a handful of exhibitions in his lifetime, the gallery owners flocked and made his dealer rich. Modigliani's young daughter was sent to live with her grandmother in Italy. She, and the family, inherited nothing. Not one painting.

Modigliani had spent ten years in Paris sculpting, drawing and painting in what ever ateliers his friend's would give him space. He lived on the margins, hand to  mouth. He roved from atelier to space on the floor to a room all the time.

Sometimes with his pockets empty and his stomach, too, he'd order a meal and when it came time to pay, he'd charm his way into painting the owner's likeness on the resto's walls in payment.

He bought supplies on credit and according to stories, the art suppliers couldn't refuse the charming, crazy Italian and let him run up a tab.
Everyone in Montparnasse knew him by his nickname 'Modi' which rhymes with 'Maudit' or cursed in French. The area below Montparnasse where Modi lived, loved, danced and painted has changed from his days when it was the quartier of the poor. He wouldn't be able to afford even a place on the floor.

Modigliani's tragic story and the lives of the old Russian émigre's in the quartier haunted me. So I wrote Murder Below Montparnasse, the 13th Aimée Leduc Investigation, which publishes today! I hope you'll take a look at the first chapter which is on the SOHO Press website. And think about entering the sweepstakes to win a Trip to Paris in October and meet me there to explore Modigliani's Montparnasse. Details at www.parisisformurder.com
I'm on book tour starting today in Seattle and then all points N,W,E, S after that. Come on by, details here, love to see you, http://www.carablack.com/events.html
Cara - Tuesday Montparnasse Pub day


  1. CONGRATULATIONS on Lucky 13, Cara! Happy Book Birthday!!!

  2. You keep coming up with terrific subjects for Aimee! Congratulations and best of luck with the launch.

  3. Happy Book-O-Versary. In this case, 13 is a lucky number.

    And thanks for this educational on Modigliani.

    He has always been a favorite artist of mine.

    In my college dorm, decades ago, many of us had his prints up.

    Very sad that he died in poverty of tuberculosis and that his partner had such a terrible end.