Cursed Modigliani. Coming to theaters the docu-film dedicated to the artist

Only on October 12, 13, 14, 2020, the docu-film Maledetto Modigliani for La Grande Arte al Cinema will be shown in Italian theaters.

On the occasion of the centenary of Amedeo Modigliani’s death, the docu-film Maledetto Modigliani produced by 3D Productions and Nexo Digital will be shown in Italian cinemas only on October 12, 13, 14, 2020. Directed by Valeria Parisi and written with Arianna Marelli on a subject by Didi Gnocchi, the film chronicles the life and art of Modigliani.

A Livornese with a short and tormented life, Dedo or Modì, as he was nicknamed, is told from a previously unseen point of view: that of Jeanne Hébuterne, the last young companion who committed suicide two days after the death of her beloved, which occurred at the Hôpital de la Charité in Paris on January 24, 1920. At the time Jeanne was pregnant and leaving behind a one-year-old daughter. It is precisely from the figure of the woman and the reading of a passage from the Songs of Maldoror, the book Modigliani always kept with him, that the docu-film opens, which also draws inspiration from the exhibition Modigliani - Picasso. The Primitivist Revolution, curated by Marc Restellini at the Albertina in Vienna: viewers will see images of works exhibited at both the Albertina and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, in museums and collections in Paris, and in the major exhibition Modigliani and the Montparnasse Adventure that was held in the Museo della Città in Livorno.

From his Livorno, the artist decided to leave to stay first in Florence, then in Venice. He arrived in Paris in 1906; and it was in the French city that his legend as a cursed artist was born.

The docu-film features his paintings in dedicated sets, from La Filette en Bleu to the Portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne. Between footage of the city today and black-and-white archival photos and footage, Jeanne’s narrative voice recounts Paris at the turn of the century: the ville lumière, the metropolis, the center of modernity, already an art market and a magnet for painters and sculptors from all over Europe. Among the women depicted in his portraits were an aspiring Russian poetess, 20-year-old Anna Achmatova, and English journalist and feminist Beatrice Hastings. Her art harks back to primitivism, which comes from an interest in non-European and ancient cultures, an elsewhere in space and time in which avant-garde artists seek a return to nature, threatened by modernity.

In the docu-film, the artist’s traces are retraced in his dearest places: the streets, the squares, the Livorno neighborhood of Venezia Nuova, the synagogue, the central market, the mountains and the countryside where he had learned his painting trade with the Macchiaioli and where he later found material for his statues, sandstone and marble. It also establishes a comparison between his works and those of other artists of his contemporaries, among them Brancusi and Picasso recounted through works and spaces, such as the Centre Pompidou’s Atelier Brancusi and the Musée Picasso Paris. Among the painters of the École de Paris, there is also Soutine, Jewish like himself, with whom for a time he shared a house-studio that still remains unchanged. Modigliani is also seen at the café La Rotonde with Jean Cocteau, who forever fixes his presence on the “terrace” along with Picasso, André Salmon and Max Jacob. Traces of Modigliani can also be spotted in today’s Paris: the nocturnal wanderings down the steps of Montmartre toward Montparnasse’s new center of aggregation, the walks around the Pantheon, the closed gates of the Jardin du Luxembourg. The imaginative floats of the Parisian nuit blanche representing possible drug-induced hallucinations. And finally his dealers and collectors: Paul Alexandre, the patron doctor; Paul Guillaume the dandy parvenu portrayed several times; Léopold Zborowski, the artist’s last dealer, a poet-adventurer able, thanks to his acquaintance with the collector Jonas Netter, to guarantee him a small monthly salary.

Marc Restellini, one of the world’s leading experts on Modigliani, has researched and made discoveries about the artist’s work using technological-scientific analyses conducted at the Institut Restellini; he is preparing the catalog raisonné of Modigliani’s works. The scandal of the Modigliani forgeries will also be recounted: in 1984, one hundred years after the artist’s birth, the heads fished out of the Livorno ditches shocked the world with one of the most famous hoaxes in art history.

The docu-film features Marc Restellini, Ann L. Ardis, professor and Dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, an expert on English modernist literature; Chloe Aridjis, writer and scholar of nineteenth-century French poetry; Harry Bellet, Le Monde journalist, scholar and art critic; and Giovanni Bertazzoni, Co-Chairman Impressionist and Modern Art Department at Christie’s; Laura Dinelli, head of Civic Museums of Livorno; Pier Francesco Ferrucci, Director of Cancer Biotherapy Unit, IEO who as a student was among the authors of the famous 1984 “mockery of the heads” in Livorno; Hebraist Paolo Edoardo Fornaciari; writer Simone Lenzi, currently councilor for Culture of the City of Livorno; gallery owner David Lévy; painter Mira Maodus; fashion designer, costume designer and artist Antonio Marras; painter Isabelle Muller; curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris Jacqueline Munck; artist John Myatt, who between 1986 and 1995 forged and placed on the market two hundred works by modern masters; collector Gérard Netter; artist Jan Olsson; curator of the Musée Picasso Paris Emilia Philippot; Director General of the Albertina in Vienna Klaus Albrecht Schröder; Vice President of the Jewish Community of Livorno Guido Servi; director, screenwriter and film producer Paolo Virzì.

Original music is by Maximilien Zaganelli and Dmitry Myachin.

Maledetto Modigliani is part of the programming of La Grande Arte al Cinema, an original and exclusive project of Nexo Digital.

Image: Amedeo Modigliani, Fillette en bleu (1918; oil on canvas, 116 x 73 cm; Jonas Netter Collection)

Cursed Modigliani. Coming to theaters the docu-film dedicated to the artist
Cursed Modigliani. Coming to theaters the docu-film dedicated to the artist

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