Modigliano at the Thyssen-Bornemiza Museum in Madrid till May 18, 2008
Considering hes so popular, there havent been as many shows dedicated to Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) as you might expect. If you are a fan, its worth braving the crowd to see Modigliani and His Time, the new show hosted by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Caja Madrid Foundation.
The two-part show places Modiglianis work alongside that of artists who influenced or inspired him and other members of the Parisian crowd that he hung out with. That may not be the newest formula on earth but it offers an alternative view of an artist whose work is enveloped in personal myth a gorgeously handsome, dissolute, lover of absinthe and women who died at 35 of tubercular meningitis.
The show is split between two locations, which is a pain: Part I is at the Thyssen, where the weekday lines werent long but the three rooms full of work by Modigliani and his masters feel a bit crowded; Part II is at the Caja Madrid Foundation, an airy, two-tier gallery a mile away and a more serene experience and its free.
Part I shows Modigliani next to artists whose work he came to know after his arrival in Paris in 1906: Paul Gaugin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso and Paul Czanne, a print of whose Boy in a Red Waistcoat the artist supposedly carried in his pocket. If, like me, you go into the show without a huge amount of knowledge about what influenced Modigliani, its interesting to see how Czannes warm and cold tones are echoed in the Italian artists portraits or to look at his mask-like, hollow-eyed sculptures alongside African and Khmer heads. There are plenty of references to the work of Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian sculptor who inspired Modigliani to give up painting in favour of sculpture for years and, when he returned to painting, give a kind of curvy, sculpture-like volume to his nudes.
The second part of the show includes Modiglianis best-known nudes plus a series of nudes by different members of the Paris School the group of international artists that converged on the French capital in the early 20th century. Seeing Modiglianis portraits of seated women alongside nudes by Marc Chagall lots of energy and a dash of cubism - the porcelain-like figures of Tsugouharu Foujita or the creepy doll-like faces of Mose Kisling gives you a good sense of how eclectic this group this community was.
"Modigliani and his Time" runs till May 18 at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Fundacin Caja Madrid.
Entry five euros or nine euros if you want to see the whole Thyssen collection.