One of those artists who carved out an instantly recognisable style, yet refused easy categorisation: Amedeo Modigliani (1884 – 1920) makes his first appearance in Austria with a major exhibition at the Albertina.
- Retrospective features his nudes, portraits, sculptures, and more
- Includes a focus on his role in the evolution of modern primitivism
- Also features works by Picasso, Derain, and Brancusi
- A highlight of the city’s exhibition year
- Runs Sept 17, 2021 – Jan 9, 2022
- See also:
- Albertina visitor info
- Current art exhibitions in Vienna
- Selected past exhibitions at the museum
Modigliani: the Primitivist Revolution
(Head, 1911-12 (limestone) by Amedeo Modigliani; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN, USA; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Cowles, 62.73.1 © Minneapolis Institute of Art)
The large end-of-year art exhibitions skipped 2020 in Vienna for reasons that need no explanation. But they’re back with a vengeance in 2021.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum, for example, has its Titian exhibition, and the Albertina gives another Italian a major retrospective: Amedeo Modigliani.
The exhibition chooses not to focus on the misplaced stereotype of an artist troubled by addiction and ill health, attracted to the seedier side of life, and doomed to an early death in poverty before his art became fully appreciated.
(Though I’m sure Modigliani would have offered a wry smile and then enjoyed a stiff drink if he knew his 1917 Nu couché would eventually sell for around US$170 million.)
Instead, Modigliani’s role in the development of primitivism in modern art receives special focus.
Many of the works for which Modigliani is best known feature, of course. So expect those long-necked portraits and sculptures, as well as the kind of nudes that caused such a sensation in 1917 Paris at the only solo exhibition held in his lifetime.
The police intervened at the exhibition at Galerie B. Weill, requiring the removal of some explicit paintings from the window display. I believe the Albertina exhibition possibly includes one of the featured nudes (Female Nude Reclining on a Pillow from the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, though I forgot to check when I went round).
Various works and artifacts from other artists and creators appear, too, to illustrate the influence of primitivism on Modigliani’s own works and, in turn, his influence on the development of that genre through the early 20th century.
So you’ll find “primitive” cultural items from before the advent of modern civilisation, such as a 13th-century sandstone head from Angkor or a marble early Cycladic figure from over 4000 years ago. The juxtaposition makes the similarities to Modigliani’s work self-evident.
The exhibition also includes works by the likes of Picasso (whose portrait Modigliani painted in 1915 – the two were acquainted in Paris), Brancusi (another friend who Modigliani also painted), and Derain.
A small section with photos of Modigliani, his associates, and his surroundings also adds depth and context to the wider exhibition.
The Albertina itself owns Modigliani’s 1918 Young Woman in a Shirt, but curator Marc Restellini brings together over 125 works from all over the world, with particular support from the Musée national Picasso-Paris and the Jonas Netter collection.
Loan sources include, for example, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Tate, the Metropolitan and MoMA in New York, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and many more.
Dates and tickets
Enjoy Modigliani’s particular style from September 17th, 2021 to January 9th, 2022.
A normal entrance ticket for the Albertina gets you into the exhibition.
Be sure to check out the other exhibitions on at the time, such as the permanent exhibition which normally features numerous Picassos and other works from contemporaries of Modigliani.
Much of the Modigliani exhibition overlaps with, for example, others for Paul Flora, Hubert Scheibl and some of America’s greatest 20th-century photographers.
How to get to the exhibition
Look for travel tips at the bottom of the main Albertina page. The exhibition sits on the first floor, near the staterooms.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna