cover image Modigliani


Rizzoli, Claude Roy. Rizzoli International Publications, $25 (159pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0630-0

Amadeo Modigliani abandoned his career as a sculptor for purely economic reasons, yet his experience with hammer and chisel enabled him to discover his true means of expression as a painter. The smoldering sensuality of his nudes, writes Roy, puts Modigliani in the direct lineage of Italian Renaissance masters. His portraits of women have wistful loneliness as their dominant note, yet he captures many moods and attitudes, from smug complacency to sheer joy in living, in his sitters. This gracefully written essay, originally published in 1958 and now beautifully decked out with 176 reproductions (93 in color), makes a companionable introduction to the life and work of the Paris-based Italian bohemian, who was considered a reactionary conservative in his own time. The illustrations are terrific, and Roy impartially plumbs the dark soul of the self-destructive artist who described himself in the verse: ""He sheds the tears of those who have failed to reach the stars.'' (February 27)