Modigliani: Beyond the Myth

May 21 - September 19, 2004

The Jewish Museum presents the first major exhibition of Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920) in New York since his 1951 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art.

When Modigliani died in Paris in 1920, at the age of thirty-five, he became the standard-bearer for the myth of the bohemian artist — the unappreciated “artist-genius” consoled by wine and drugs. This celebrated myth is based on details of the artist’s colorful life. As captivating as such biography may be, it does little to further our understanding of the man or his art. The story of Modigliani’s life has eclipsed his work, severing it from the ideas and cultural traditions that might otherwise reveal its many meanings. Such mythmaking has made one of the best-known early modernist artists one of the most misunderstood.

The Jewish Museum presents the first major exhibition of Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920) in New York since his 1951 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. An anomaly among the many foreign Jewish artists who lived in Paris during the early 1900s, Modigliani remained independent of any movement or style, and was known primarily for his reclining nudes and portraits with elegantly elongated features. Modigliani: Beyond the Myth shows the full range of the artist’s oeuvre—painting, drawing and sculpture—in an effort to reevaluate his position within the development of twentieth-century European modernism.

Unlike previous retrospectives, Modigliani: Beyond the Myth also explores the artist’s heritage as an Italian Sephardic Jew, and how it contributed to the development of a unique style that melded formalist innovation with a variety of historical models from Egyptian and classical to African. More than 100 of Modigliani’s works from collections in the United States, Europe, South America and Australia are featured in this retrospective.

The exhibition will travel to The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.

An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.