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Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Adrienne (Woman with Bangs) by Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani - Adrienne (Woman with Bangs)

Adrienne (Woman with Bangs)

by Amedeo Modigliani

Adrienne (Woman with Bangs) by Amedeo Modigliani is similar to Modigliani’s other iconic and stylized portraits. Adrienne is depicted with a simplified, elongated oval face, gracefully sculptured nose, and simplified mouth highlight the Modigliani’s interest in African masks. Modigliani used portraiture to explore both his psychology and that of his subjects, who were typically fellow artists, friends, or lovers. Modigliani drew inspiration from the art of so-called “primitive” cultures; his work often resembling African or Pre-Columbian sculpture. Adrienne’s neck is elongated as in may other Modigliani portraits again echoing his appreciation of “primitive” sculptures.

By 1914 Modigliani abandoned his first love, sculpting and focused solely on his painting. This move was precipitated by the difficulty in acquiring sculptural materials due to the outbreak of World War I, and by Modigliani’s physical debilitation. Modigliani painted a series of portraits of contemporary artists and friends in Paris such as Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Jacques, and Jean Cocteau. This painting highlights Adrienne’s hair fringe, which is covering her forehead, just above her eyebrows. Adrienne’s Bangs are shaped in an arc around her face.

Adrienne, the Woman with Bangs, was painted in 1917, the same year in which police closed his only solo exhibition during his lifetime. It was closed on the opening day, but it continued after that, only after the removal of his nude paintings from the gallery’s street-front window. His series of nudes, painted in 1917, created a sensation when exhibited in Paris.

Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France and is known for portraits and nudes.  Modigliani moved to Paris in 1906, where he came into contact with prominent artists such as Pablo Picasso. From 1909 to 1914, he devoted himself mainly to sculpture in which the linear form of African sculpture and the figurative Renaissance painters informed his work.  His main subject was portraits and full figures of humans, both in the images and in sculptures. Later he painted the human figure almost exclusively and created many reclining female nudes. During his life, Amedeo Modigliani had little success and died aged 35 in Paris.

Things to Know: Amedeo Modigliani

  • Modigliani painted the human figure almost exclusively and created at least 26 reclining female nudes.
  • His nickname, Modi, rhymes with the French word “maudit,” meaning “accursed,” a name acquired because of his lifestyle.
  • Modigliani died of tuberculosis and complications due to substance abuse and hard living.
  • Jeanne Hébuterne, pregnant with Modigliani’s second child, committed suicide the day after Modigliani’s death, which added to Modigliani’s legacy.
  • Modigliani applied his paint with short, stabbing actions. He manipulated it while wet so that the marks of his brush are visible, as are the scratched lines made with the end of his brush to highlight the model’s hair.
  • Modigliani’s explicit depiction of pubic hair in his nudes, a taboo in Salon paintings of the period, was highly controversial and led to the police closing his exhibition in 1917 on the grounds of indecency.
  • Modigliani loved poetry and recite Dante and other poets from memory. His favorite poet was remembered as a ‘diseased genius’ and a ‘loner,’ reflecting Modigliani’s unpredictable moods and status as an Italian Jew in Paris.

Reflections

  • Modigliani stated that “When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes.” Did he know the soul of this woman with bangs?

Adrienne (Woman with Bangs)

  • Title:              Adrienne (Woman with Bangs)
  • Artist:            Amedeo Modigliani
  • Created:        1917
  • Medium:        oil on linen
  • Dimensions:   Height: 55.3 cm (21.7 ″); Width: 38.1 cm (15 ″)
  • Museum:        National Gallery of Art

Amedeo Modigliani

Explore the National Gallery of Art

Amedeo Modigliani Quotes

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“Happiness is an angel with a serious face.”

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“The function of art is to struggle against obligation.”

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“When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes.”

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“What I look for is neither reality nor unreality but the subconscious, the instinctive mystery of the human race.”

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“You are not alive unless you know you are living.”

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“With one eye, you are looking at the outside world, while with the other you are looking within yourself.”

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“It is your duty in life to save your dream.”
– Amedeo Modigliani

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Photo Credit 1) Adrienne (Woman with Bangs)

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