by Meryle Secrest
4.2 4

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Modigliani : A Life 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
Meryle Sechrist has proven her merits as a biographer in her books on Frank Lloyd Wright, Kenneth Clark, Bernard Berenson and Leonard Bernstein and she has always shown a penchant for cleansing the facade of famous people and examining their lives in context with the times in which they lived and worked. In MODIGLIANI: A LIFE she has written a near novel about a fascinating artist whose works are deeply admired but whose personal reputation has been to date that of a inordinately handsome alcoholic, hashish addicted, imbiber of absinthe womanizer whose behavior when under the influence of his drugs of choice was that of a self destructive and cruel bohemian. What Secrest brings to light in this book is how Modigliani's shame at having tuberculosis for most of his life, hiding that ominous fact by altering his mind with alcohol etc. partially explains his behavioral patterns. It may sound like a clinical soap opera story but in Secrest's learned and highly respected hands a new vision of the life of Modigliani surfaces, making way for a closer appreciation of his art. Though he died young (at age 35!) he left behind his trademark elongated necked portraits of women and men, his polished portraits of colleagues and interesting models, his highly sensually charged nudes on both canvas and paper, and his sculptures whose lines are still being imitated today by artists. Secrest shares his life as an Italian born Sephardic Jew from an impoverished family, his affairs with Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and the English journalist Beatrice Hastings and his preoccupation with psychic phenomena. The book is accompanied by numerous photographs of the artist and his colleagues and acquaintances and reproductions of some of his works. It is a fine mix, the creative writing being enhance by the art instead of the usual 'byline' format many biographical works assume. This is no only the definitive book on the artist Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 - January 24, 1920), it is also as well written a historical novel as any on the shelves of books on artists. Grady Harp
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