A biographer explores the artist’s tragic life, and transcendent work, in early twentieth-century Paris—“a vibrant portrait of a deeply unhappy man” (Publishers Weekly).
In 1920, at the age of thirty-five, Amedeo Modigliani died in poverty and neglect in Paris, much like a figure out of La Bohéme. His life had been as dramatic as his death. An Italian Jew from a bourgeois family, “Modi” had a weakness for drink, hashish, and the many women—including the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova—who were drawn to his good looks. His painting thrived on chaos, but his bohemian lifestyle, combined with a youthful case of tuberculosis, eventually took a fatal toll.
His friends included Picasso, Utrillo, Soutine, and other important artists of his day, yet his own work stood apart, generating little interest while he lived. Today’s art world, however, acknowledges him as a master whose limited oeuvre—sculptures, portraits, and some of the most appealing nudes in the whole of modern art—cannot satisfy collectors’ demand.
With a lively but judicious hand, biographer Jeffrey Meyers sketches Modigliani and the art he produced, illuminating not only this little-known figure but also the painters, writers, lovers, and others who inhabited early twentieth-century Paris with him.