- A recent biography "recasts the artist’s character from dissolute victim to active performer, one who controlled the way his life would be viewed by his contemporaries, and by history."
- "[H]e tended to carry himself like a prince. And the experience of having survived a series of childhood health crises, including tuberculosis, only increased his sense of exceptionalism.
- "Unsurprisingly, he viewed artists as privileged beings. At 17, he wrote that as a species they had “different rights, different values than do normal, ordinary people because we have different needs which put us — it has to be said and you must believe it — above their moral standards."
- In seeking financial support: "Sometimes it came in sustained relationships with women like the British journalist and poet Beatrice Hastings. Hastings, under the name Alice Morning, wrote a running account of the Parisian art scene for an avant-garde journal called The New Age. She had a caregiver’s temperament (she collected stray animals and nursed wounded wasps back to health) and money she didn’t mind sharing, and she liked to get high. She was everything he needed.
- "[H]e consciously used intoxicants as a cover to hide a “great secret,” that being the recurrence of his tuberculosis. . . . Modigliani, terrified of the social ostracism that would result if he were known to have the highly contagious disease, deliberately fostered a reputation as an alcoholic and addict to prevent detection. This cover allowed him to freely drink the wine that soothed his coughing, use the drugs that gave him energy to work — his output of paintings surged in his last years — and pass off as drunk and disorderly any irritable or violent outbursts. . . . [T]he very idea of someone keeping quiet about a lethal and contagious disease raises serious ethical issues. Did he ever warn his friends, and his countless lovers, about their risk of infection from him? We have no evidence one way or the other."
- "[O]ne of his dealers, described him as 'all charm, all impulsiveness, all disdain.' The writer Max Jacob, who was very much part of Modigliani’s bohemian crowd, called him 'the most unpleasant man I knew. Proud, angry, insensitive, wicked.'"
- Cheated on his pregnant, teenage girlfriend, who killed herself days after he died.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Famous sociopaths (part 2)
Another recent find is the artist Amedeo Modigliani, as featured in a recent NY Times article: