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About the Artist
The elongated portraits and luxuriant nudes of Modigliani are instantly recognized as his personal style. Modigliani was Italian by birth, but lived in Paris for most of his adult life. It was there that he encountered the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Rouault and Pablo Picasso. At this time the strong influence of Paul Cézanne was evident in his deliberate distortion of the figure and free use of large, flat areas of color. His friendship with the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi kindled his interest in sculpture. After 1915, Modigliani devoted himself entirely to painting, producing some of his best portraits. His interest in African masks and sculpture is evident in the treatment of the sitters’ faces: flat and masklike, with almond eyes, twisted noses, pursed mouths and elongated necks. Despite their extreme economy of composition and neutral backgrounds, his portraits convey a sharp sense of the sitter’s personality. He went on to develop a sophisticated, graceful style of decorative arabesques and simplified forms. During his short life, Modigliani had to struggle against poverty and chronic ill health, and at the age of thirty-five died of tuberculosis and excesses of drink and drugs.