Amedeo Modigliani at the Musée de l’Orangerie

Amedeo Modigliani at the Musée de l’Orangerie
The Modigliani exhibition currently running at the Musée de l’Orangerie is bound to be a hit. This artist’s distinctive style is always a draw and lurid tales of his debauched and ultimately tragic life exert their own voyeuristic fascination. But this is something a little different because the curators have found a novel way to focus on his life and work, namely by viewing it through the lens of his relationship with Paul Guillaume, the art dealer who first helped him achieve sales and a modicum of recognition. It is, says the curator Cécile Gurardeau, a chance to put Modigliani “back into context.”  The exhibition opens with portraits of Guillaume, painted by Modigliani soon after the two men were introduced in 1914. Modigliani, at 30, was immediately taken with the 23 year-old would-be art dealer who rented a studio in Montmartre for him and began publicizing his work in artistic circles. The struggling artist sensed that this confident young man would provide a much-need impetus to his career and he painted him wearing a suit and tie, his hat perched on his slightly tilted head, as if he is just off to do a deal. Modigliani inscribed the portrait with the words novo pilota or “new pilot,” conveying his idea that this was a man to take him places.    Voir cette publication sur Instagram   Une publication partagée par Musée de l’Orangerie (@museeorangerie) The two men were drawn together by their shared love of African art. Modigliani had been visiting the Musée d’Éthnographie du Trocadero since about 1909 and was fascinated by the non-European art he found there. Since then, he had devoted himself to sculpture, rather than painting, and in the simple stone heads with elongated faces he produced, you can discern both the influence of African sculpture and the origins of the stylized faces he painted later. Guillaume, meanwhile, had developed a similar interest and had begun buying African masks and sculptures, first exhibiting them in 1914. He later built on this interest, organizing more exhibitions and publishing his study of Sculptures Nègres in 1917.    Mask from Gabon, showcased at the Orangerie’s exhibit on Amedeo Modigliani. Photo: Marian Jones

Lead photo credit : Portrait of Paul Guillaume by Amedeo Modigliani. Exhibit photo by Marian Jones

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Recently retired from teaching Modern Languages (French and German), Marian now has time to develop her interests in travel and European culture and history. She will be in Paris as often as she can, visiting places old and new, finding out their stories and writing it all up as soon as she gets home. Marian also runs the weekly podcast series, City Breaks, offering in-depth coverage of popular city break destinations, with lots of background history and cultural information. She has covered Paris in 22 episodes but looks forward to updating the series every now and then with some Paris Extra episodes.