• 12 Mar 2018

Exactly a century ago, the British police made an intervention in the exhibition of nude paintings by Amedeo Modigliani to shut it down. Nowadays, the London Tate Modern makes it up for this censorship by presenting once again the great master’s sulfurous Artworks.

This Artwork by painter Amedeo Modigliani is a nude that was made in 1917 and provoked a scandal for showing pubic hairs for the first time.

Lying Nude (from the left side), 1917 © Amedeo Modigliani

A hundred years old scandal

When the British police burst into Amedeo Modigiliani’s exhibition at the Berthe Weill gallery in 1917, one canvas in particular called everybody’s attention. In fact, the grand master’s nude represented pubic hairs for the first time. Such a modernization of female nude paintings generated by the Artist is the angle chosen by Tate Modern‘s Curator Nancy Ireson for the exhibition. “It is the largest group of his nudes which have ever been shown together in the UK” said the Curator. The 12 Artworks will be part of a hundred others that will also be exhibited. As a result, London will host the most comprehensive exhibition of the Artist the United Kingdom has ever experience.

A new approach to the Artist’s personality

The sulfurous and dissolute reputation of Amedeo Modigliani is often what the public recalls from the several exhibitions that have been organized so far. To the Tate Museum’s opinion, the goal is, to the contrary, to propose a new approach. Indeed, the idea is to show that the great master’s artistic statement does not simply consist in portraits of long faces with almond eyes. Several Artworks, which have not been shown often to the public, come from private collections. In order to better transpose the atmosphere in which the painter created, the museum proposes a virtual reality tour that takes visitors to Amedeo Modigliani’s studio.

This Artwork by Amedeo Modigliani is a nude that was made in 1917.

Sitting Nude, 1917 © Amedeo Modigliani

Female models filled with freedom

The major part of the exhibited Artworks was made during World War I. In that context, women took on most of the positions left by men who went to war. Becoming a model for a painter was a very lucrative position. It also was the occasion to become independent. “They might not marry. They might live alone. They didn’t necessarily have to have children. Although it’s not feminism as we might see it today, I think it is actually quite interesting to think of these people as women making a choice” explained Nancy Ireson. In fact, the models depicted look confident and sometimes even made audacious aesthetic choices such as hairstyles.

This nude by painter Amedeo Modigliani was made in 1917.

Lying Nude, 1917 © Amedeo Modigliani


Read our article about the exhibition Tintoret-Birth of a Genius at the Luxembourg Museum here.

Sources: Artnet and The Guardian