The Italian Almanac

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portrait by Modigliani

Italian News / Art - May 27

About 6,000 documents including diaries, manuscripts, family memoirs and photographs of Amedeo Modigliani will be moved permanently from France to Italy, archive officials said. Most of the documents - believed to be the only ones existing related to the 20th century artist - have been stored mostly at the Paris Montparnasse museum. A few are in other institutions in France.

Now, Christian Parisot, the director of the Modigliani Institut Archives Legales and a longtime Modigliani expert, has decided in consultation with the artist's granddaughter that the materials should be brought to Rome. "Rome is full of beautiful, ancient history," Parisot told a news conference in the Italian capital. "Now, I hope to bring a breath of fresh air from this century."

The documents help shed some light on the short, tragic life of the artist, known for his portraits with elongated facial features and female nudes. "Without archives, there would be no knowledge about the reality of an artist, but only about what he did," Parisot said, adding that in some cases, the documents trace Modigliani's moves from one city to the next, as well as the fact that he lost his documents or did not pay the rent.

Modigliani was born July 12, 1884, in Tuscany, Italy, the last of four children of a middle-class Jewish family, and moved to Paris in 1906. Proud of his Italian and Sephardic roots, his intellectual upbringing and his mother's liberal social and political ideals, he lived hard, feeding the myth of the bohemian artist who indulged in wine and drugs.

Modigliani did not align himself with any art movement, and limited himself almost entirely to portraits. He died of tuberculosis in 1920, at age 35, ending a life and career marred by his volatile personality, poverty and poor health. His 21-year-old pregnant lover, Jeanne Hebuterne, committed suicide the day after his death.