A cornerstone for the Modigliani saga?

Feb 18, 2022 | Authentications & attributions, Exhibitions

Not an anthology, not all possible Modiglianis, not a way to propose new Modiglianis, but an exhibition where he was more present than many other times. And a new concept from which, perhaps, we can finally find new ground for the attributions.

The Métropole Musée d’Art Moderne, d’Art Contemporain et d’Art Brut in Lille created what for us can be called an epochal exhibition on the Italian Amedeo and French Modi’. Announced for some time, but blocked due to COVID, we have been keeping an eye on its opening for about a year, crossing our fingers and hoping to be finally able to visit it, and … we did!

3 large rooms, 3 paintings, lots of photos and videos to scientifically document Modigliani.

An exhibition that has hit the mark in all its parts. Life-size reproductions of many paintings by Modigliani (including those on display), all photographed “front and back” welcome the visitors. It is a stunning wiew on it own, but it also allow to see and study both the front and back of the artworks, to see the strecher, the labels, everything that is not normally shown, as if it was not part of the painting.

There are only three autography artworks in total on exhibit, and only one not in the permanent museum collection, however, a series of other “expedients” enrich the experience and allow you to get to know the works and the painter in depth.
On a monitor the diagnostic techniques and the results obtained with UV fluorescence, IR reflectography and radiography are illustrated. In the central area, in what is normally a fineart transport crate, another monitor shows a video on the approach of a restorer to a work by Modigliani.
In the same room there is also a documentary in which it is shown, with diagnostic images how Modigliani reused the sane canvas almost 10 times.

Finally, a third room where the stretcher, which has a far from marginal role for the attribution of works to this artist, is the protagonist, together with the pigments and binders chosen by Modì, which are also exhibited.

On the walls, in addition to the artworks, a number of panels in which various themes are addressed, with a lot of extra information; for example, a map of the shops where Modì got supplies in Paris, but also a study on how an observer’s eye moves on a Modì painting and why.

We would liked to see such  exhibitions more often. We give kudos to those who bet on showing what is not visible to the naked eye and dare to exhibit what is normally hidden.

But this exhibition is something more. It is the first step for a “free” study of Modigliani’s works, on the basis of certain and publicly-owned works, shared scientific investigations, analyses performed by a laboratory of excellence (CRMF2), and the decision to use the budget that is normally reserved for covering the loan and handling of the works, for something that will enrich the exhibition, provide the works with a diagnostic curriculum that will be useful for their conservation and, finally, help scholar to know more about how Modigliani painted.

What more could you want?