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One known for his modern nudes, the other for his political abstracts

January 24, On This Day

Amedeo Modigliani


An Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Amedeo Modigliani is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by a surreal elongation of faces, necks, and figures. These were not well received during his lifetime, but later became much sought-after — he died a 102 years ago today, on January 24, 1920, at the very young age of 35 due to  tubercular meningitis. Managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants, Modigliani died destitute.

Later, his reputation has soared. Nine novels, a play, a documentary, and three feature films have been devoted to his life. Modigliani is one of the most faked artists in the world! Rising prices for works attributed to him as well as the legend surrounding his short life have fueled a market for forgeries of both paintings and sculptures.

Modigliani\’s contemporaries include Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brâncuși.

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Robert Motherwell


He was one of the youngest of the New York School, which also included Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Robert Motherwell was an American abstract expressionist painter, printmaker, and editor, known for his articulate series of art that touched on political, philosophical and literary themes. He was born on January 24, 1915, and lived to the age of 76.

The concept of \”automatic\” drawing or automatism, which the Surrealists used to tap into their unconscious, had a lasting effect on Motherwell.

Motherwell was born into wealth and extensively well-travelled. His earliest influences include travel in Mexico; another time, his muse was one of his many wives; in yet another, he was inspired by Japanese rice paper to use it as a canvas, or then by the sea crashing on the shore during a visit to the coast.

Elegies to the Spanish Republic, one of his best known series of works, has abstract imagery that has been interpreted as representing violence in Hispanic culture, not necessarily related to the Spanish Civil War of its title.

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