Modigliani painted faces that are instantly recognisable. Elongated necks, almond eyes and equine noses stare out of canvases, all different but all the same. Modigliani at Tate Modern is packed with portraits (well there is one landscape that rather shows why he was known for his faces) and sculptures but is it worth seeing?
REVIEW: MODIGLIANI at TATE MODERN
I love the haughty clean lines of the faces in Modigliani’s paintings but it is sculpture that I truly covet. There is something ancient about the faces. To me they have always looked like the kind of object that might have been worshipped centuries ago. So it was pleasing to learn that the artist used to places lights on the statues in an act of quasi worship.
Long faces and nudes that’s what Modigliani is known for. Twelve unclothed ladies have been gathered together for this exhibition at Tate Modern. They gaze at us from the walls of the central gallery. Sometimes we see the same woman in portraits with and without clothes next to each other. At the time these nudes were considered outrageous and were censored. Not because of the naked flesh, which has been on display since the earliest depictions of Eve, but because Modigliani dared the show pubic hair, previous nudes all looked as if they been waxed.
Modigliani was a sickly soul. He had tuberculosis which he didn’t help with prodigious quantities of drinking and smoking. In the final months of the First World War, as Paris came under increasing fire, Modigliani decamped down to the South of France with his pregnant lover Jeanne Hébuterne. Whilst there he didn’t paint professional models but rather the family and friends that surrounded him. I especially liked this portrait of Jeanne.
Matters were not helped by living in a damp cold studio and he died aged only 35 in 1920. By the magic of Virtual Reality we experience sitting in Modigliani’s Ochre Atelier on the rue de la Grand Chaumière in Montparnasse. A breeze wafts a paper to the floor, cigarette smoke curls upwards, water drips from the ceiling, sardine tins litter the floor. I confess that I did bend down to try and retrieve the paper as it fell. Tickets for the VR are free but make sure that you collect a timed ticket as you enter the exhibition, just having your show entry ticket will not be enough.
Is it worth paying £17.70 to see Modigliani at Tate Modern? Yes, is the short answer. I concede that I am biased; I fell in love with Modigliani when I first saw his work at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art when I was young and impressionable. Even if you are not already a fan I would say head off to Bankside. There are paintings in London that have never been here before and I learnt a lot both Modigliani the man and his work. Just make sure that you pick up a timed ticket for the Virtual Reality, it is amazing.
MODIGLIANI at TATE MODERN: need to know
- 23 November 2017 – 2 April 2018
- Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
- Admission: Adults £17.70 concessions available
- Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (until 10pm on Friday and Saturday)
- Booking in tickets in advance is advisable.
- I know that I have said this twice before but …… make sure you collect a timed ticket for Virtual Reality before you enter the exhibition.
- If tickets have sold out then members can visit whenever they want during opening hours.
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