Alice by Amedeo Modigliani at the National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen

Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me Anthony King. Today I’ll be taking you on a photographic tour of a 1918 painting called ‘Alice’ by the one and only Amedeo Modigliani. It’s currently at the National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen.

Before I start today, if you can get hold of the DVD box set from France “The Heydays of Montparnasse” it will teach you everything you need to know about Paris turn of the century from eyewitness and many of the artists themselves. It’s hard to get and expensive but a must for your serious art lovers.

OK! Alice! Alice, an oil-on-canvas painting by Amedeo Modigliani from around 1918, currently resides in the Danish National Gallery, having been donated in 1928. Modigliani, renowned for his almost exclusive focus on the human figure, particularly gained fame for his portraits. When Modigliani made this painting, he had already figured out his own way of showing people in art. The girl in the painting is looking straight ahead, and the shapes and lines in the painting make it feel calm and organized, like everything is in the right place… almost in a geometric way.

Modigliani, celebrated for his iconic portraits featuring often mask-like faces and striking blue eyes, has left an indelible mark on the early 20th-century art scene. Born on July 12, 1884, in Livorno, Kingdom of Italy, Modigliani moved from Italy to Paris in 1906.

Settling in Montparnasse during 1908-09, he became a part of the international artists’ community. His unconventional lifestyle and premature death significantly contributed to the romanticized myth of the bohemian Parisian art scene. Residing in the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, a haven for struggling artists, Modigliani rented a studio in Rue Caulaincourt. Despite the area’s poverty, he aimed to maintain an appearance of affluence, dressing well and adorning his studio with elegant furnishings and reproductions of classical art. Later, attempting to embody the spirit of a carefree artist, he donned brown pants, a red scarf, and a large black hat. However, even in this attire, he still seemed to grapple with life’s challenges. Within a year of his time in Paris, his demeanour and reputation underwent a noteworthy transformation from a smart artist to a kind of down and out struggling with alcohol and struggling with life.

By Anthony King (c)