The Jewish Museum presents an exhibition of early drawings by Amedeo Modigliani—many of which are being shown for the first time in the United States.
Acquired directly from the artist by Dr. Paul Alexandre, his close friend and first patron, these works illuminate Modigliani’s heritage as an Italian Sephardic Jew as pivotal to understanding his artistic output.
Modigliani Unmasked considers the celebrated artist Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920) shortly after he arrived in Paris in 1906, when the city was still roiling with anti-Semitism after the long-running tumult of the Dreyfus Affair and the influx of foreign emigres. Modigliani’s Italian-Sephardic background helped forge a complex cultural identity that rested in part on the ability of Italian Jews historically to assimilate and embrace diversity. The exhibition will show that Modigliani’s art cannot be fully understood without acknowledging the ways the artist responded to the social realities that he confronted in the unprecedented artistic melting pot of Paris. The drawings from the Alexandre collection reveal the emerging artist himself, enmeshed in his own particular identity quandary, struggling to discover what portraiture might mean in a modern world of racial complexity.