Art Hero: Amedeo Modigliani

One of my first art loves was the Italian Expressionist artist and sculpter Amedeo Clemente Modigliani. The way he painted portraits was magical to me. His art was seemingly so simple but the artist created so much emotion in each face. Modigliani's gorgeously rich color palette is incredible and I find him influencing my portraits everyday.

Just look at the way he did his eyes of his subjects. They sort of look right through you, don't you think? The sitters almost become ghosts. I love that some of his characters eyes are sometimes just blurred-out grays? So simple but so powerful.

When I paint my portraits I try to do the same thing, I focus on the eyes. Each person I paint seems to come alive when I finish the eyes..

And that little twist of the head, amazing...

Here are a few of my favorite paintings:

Seated Young Woman, 1918

The Servent Girl, 1918
Portrait of Paul Guillaume, 1916

Reclining Nude, 1917

Victoria, 1916

Jaques and Berthe Lipchitz 1916

Nude Sitting on a Divan, 1917

Madame Kisling 1917
Marie, Daughter of the People, 1918

Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne, 1918

Dedie Hayden, 1918

Tragically, Modigliani died young at the age of 35.  He lived the prefect bohemia artist lifestyle and he influenced generations of artists through his painting style and way of life.

Modigliani in his studio
Which artist has most influenced you?

Art Hero...Otto Dix

The Neue Galerie in New York City just opened an Exhibition of one of my all time favorite artists Otto Dix (1891-1969). He is an amazing painter who uses the faces of passion and emotions. His work hits you in the guts, hard. Dix's paintings are dark and dirty with the stench of real life thrown in. Most of his models seem twisted and a bit deranged, their faces have this sense of sadness and horror. Even the most innocent of his subjects seem to have a real grittiness about them.  He seems to show that through ugliness one can find beauty or at least some sense of truth.

 If you don't know about Otto Dix he is one of the artists of The German Expressionist Movement. Most of the art created during this time was done between the wars in the 1920's & 1930's.  For me, this was one of the most incredible eras of art. These artists seemed so free. They were rebellious. They said what they wanted no matter who saw. Their work was political, erotic and very raw.

 This sense of freedom stopped when Nazis found these works of art.  They quickly banned these artists from exhibiting and they labeled their work as "Degenerate Art". It was exactly the opposite of the kind of sterile world Hitler was trying to create through out Germany. Many of the artists had to flee the country and over 1000 works of art were destroyed including some by Otto Dix.

Here are a few that I could find of Otto Dix's work. Warning Some of these are NSFW.

Portrait of Journalist Sylvia Von Harden 1926
Portrait of the Art Historian Dr. Paul Ferdinand Schmidt

To Beauty 1922
Portrait of Mrs. Martha Dix I, 1928
The Salon I, 1921

The Portrait of Heinrich Stadelmann 1922
The Seven Cardinal Sins, 1933
Portrait of the Artist's Parents II, 1924

If you want to see more I would highly recommend checking out the book, Dix by Eva Karcher, published by Taschen. To learn even more about the German Expressionism try New Objectivity by Sergiusz Michalski.
Both are fabulous books and are very eye opening.

(BTW, the images I used here are of the tamest of Otto's work. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the Neue Galerie and here some of the reactions.)

I must say, looking at this artwork leads me to wonder...What are we doing for political/rebellious art now? Where is hunger?