Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Modi's haunts

This is a big year for Modigliani. He left us in 1920 but his paintings sell for millions and there's a show at the Tate Modern in London.
Here's a link to an article from the Guardian. I like how the journalist searches out some of his haunts, as I did and also huffed and puffed up to his last studio wondering how a tubercular man could do it everyday.  https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/nov/19/naked-attraction-art-modigliani-paris-montmartre-montparnasse
However, when I visited his former atelier (before this couple started giving dinners) I loved looking out the window, seeing the light as Modigliani had seen it.
On the floor below lived an older Russian artist, a woman who greeted me with wild piled up hair, and what do you want? To see your studio, Madame, maybe?
Ah no, I'm working. But over her shoulder I got a peek of an atelier that hadn't changed since Modi's time.
In Modigliani's lifetime he had one solo painting exhibition which was quickly closed by the police for indecency.

He sold few works in his lifetime, even with an agent who gave him a studio space in his home on rue Joseph Bara and fed him for awhile. He died tubercular and penniless in the charity hospital after living in a cold attic garret with the mother of his child, Jeanne a painter herself, pregnant with their second. Two days after Modi died, his friends gave him a big send off at Pere Lachaise, some said almost in guilt for the neglect they'd shown him. Jeanne, unable to attend the funeral and taken hostage by her strict Catholic family, jumped from their apartment roof to her death with her unborn child.
The year hadn't passed before his paintings were selling.
Granted he couldn't have been an easy friend - always without a sou in his corduroy jacket pocket, his drinking, feverishly ill
arguing with Picasso, dancing on the table at la Rotonde cafe and tearing fellow patron Lenin's newspaper out of his hands. True. Lenin hated him.  So fascinating that these two icons knew each other. When I found this out researching Murder Below Montparnasse, it stimulated a what if...what if that moment was about something else?
His surviving daughter whom Jeanne's parents refused to acknowledge was sent to Italy and raised by Modigliani's family. She came back to France joined the Resistance and had two daughters by a Resistance colleague who was married. According to reports, his daughter believed a dodgy art historian who authenticated fakes and died penniless herself. That injustice stirred me in so many ways that it had to go in a book.
Cara - Tuesday


  1. Fascinating! Especially about Lenin. Thanks.

  2. You sure do know how to plant the hook, maestro! Great piece, with book to follow for sure.