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  • The stunning oddities of Modigliani: Modern Gazes


The stunning oddities of Modigliani: Modern Gazes

Currently on at the Museum Barberini, 'Modigliani: Modern Gazes' showcases some of the great Italian Modernist's most striking works.★★★★

Photo: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart / Nahmad Collection

The Italian painter is one of the few artists to have made a significant contribution to modernism through figuration, and his portraits, with their elongated necks and blank, stone-like eyes, are gorgeous oddities of 20th century art: deeply soulful in their deft, yet often daft simplicity.

Once you’ve negotiated your way through the gangs of school kids and tour guides, you’ll find Barberini has a supreme selection of them. Each gallery room builds up to an astonishing crescendo of colour and confidence, before ending abruptly with Modigliani’s untimely death from tuberculosis in 1920.

The exhibition pays attention to his feminist credentials, in particular his willingness to depict independent women in the fashionable tomboyish attire of the day – a notion that somewhat flies out the window with the astonishing triumvirate of nudes in the penultimate room of the show, all swinging breasts and slinky poses. (Yet, even objectified they are remarkable in their look of coy indifference.)

Overall, Modigliani’s wartime paintings really stand out: portraits of his tragic lover, Jeanne Hébuterne, and the painter Chaim Soutine, his neck reduced to a single cylindrical shape. Well worth the Potsdam pilgrimage to pay homage. ★★★★

  • Museum Barberini Potsdam, Humboldtstr. 5-6, Potsdam, through Aug 18, details.