Kimbell Art Museum Modigliani loans finds three works by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani on view in the Kimbell Art Museum’s galleries as “guests of honor.” Drawn from the Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation and usually on loan to the Princeton University Art Museum, which is presently closed for renovation, the three works include a limestone sculpture Head (c. 1910–11) and two paintings—portraits of the poet, designer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau (1916) and the Russian sculptor Léon Indenbaum (1916). These works are presented alongside the Kimbell’s Modigliani sculptural Head (c. 1913), which was given to the Kimbell in honor of Ted and Lucile Weiner by their daughter Gwendolyn in 2017.
Carved directly in stone, with a tension between figuration and abstraction, Modigliani’s sculptures were informed by works he admired in Paris, including West African, Egyptian, ancient Greek and Cambodian statuary as well as European prototypes. The Pearlman Foundation and Kimbell Head sculptures are two of approximately 27 known works that Modigliani made before he abandoned the medium. The two painted portraits of fellow members of the avant-garde express the artist’s signature language of elegant, often elongated geometric forms.
Born in 1884 in the Tuscan port of Livorno, Italy, to a Sephardic Jewish family, Amedeo Modigliani left his hometown in 1906 to join the Parisian avant-garde. His early paintings show influences from the works of artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pablo Picasso. However, Modigliani soon dedicated himself to sculpture, guided by Constantin Brancusi’s example of directly carving into stone. Modigliani produced a series of stylized, elongated stone heads (and two full figures) with slender necks and geometric features such as almond-shaped eyes and small, round mouths.
By 1914, due to health concerns and other practicalities, Modigliani abandoned sculpting in favor of painting, focusing primarily on portraiture and nude figures. Expressing his characteristic language of graceful, lengthened forms, his incisive portraits of fellow artists, writers and others in his circle—often outsiders or foreigners like Modigliani—likewise convey a transcendent universality, while at the same time revealing the distinctive personality of the sitters. Modigliani’s life was cut short: he died in 1920 at age 35 of tubercular meningitis, before achieving the worldwide acclaim as a pioneer of modern art that he would receive posthumously.
The three masterpieces from the Pearlman Foundation, along with the Kimbell sculpture, are on view together in the Kahn Building through October 30, 2022. Admission to the permanent collection is always free.
ABOUT THE KIMBELL ART MUSEUM
The Kimbell Art Museum, owned and operated by the Kimbell Art Foundation, is internationally renowned for both its collections and its architecture. The Kimbell’s collections range in period from antiquity to the 20th century and include European masterpieces by artists such as Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini, Velázquez, Vigée Le Brun, Monet, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse; important collections of Egyptian and classical antiquities; and the art of Asia, Africa and the Ancient Americas.
The museum’s 1972 building, designed by the American architect Louis I. Kahn, is widely regarded as one of the outstanding architectural achievements of the modern era. A second building, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, opened in 2013 and now provides space for special exhibitions, dedicated classrooms and a 289-seat auditorium with excellent acoustics for music.
For more information, visit kimbellart.org.