Amedeo Modigliani

  • 28.10.2016–5.2.2017
Tickets: with a museum ticket
Amedeo Modigliani -näyttely. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Jenni Nurminen
Amedeo Modigliani -näyttely. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Jenni Nurminen

A retrospective exhibition of the Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920) will be on display at the Ateneum, starting from 28 October 2016. Modigliani, who died on the verge of fame at the early age of 35, is one of the most interesting artists in modern art today.

The works on display constitute the largest Modigliani exhibition in the Nordic countries to date. A total of 83 paintings, sculptures and paper-based works will be on display.

The exhibition will provide an opportunity to explore Modigliani’s diverse work, and his life in the Montparnasse district, which was the centre of artistic life in Paris in the early part of the 20th century. The artist is known especially for his elegant paintings of women, which have influenced the worlds of visual art and fashion. Modigliani has a distinctive style: recurring features in his portraits include almond-shaped eyes, and long, arched necks and hands. The exhibition will feature paintings, sculptures and prints.

One of the key aspects of this exhibition are the works bought by Roger Dutilleul, a fervent art lover and collector. Dutilleul’s Modigliani collection is one of the best that is housed in a single museum, the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art’s collection. Portrait of the Artist Léopold Survage (1918), which was acquired by the Ateneum in 1955, represents Modigliani’s work from his most prolific period, when the artist lived and worked in Nice.

The inner circle of the charismatic Modigliani included painters, sculptors, writers, poets and composers. Modigliani’s lady friends – the poet Anna Akhmatova, the art critic Beatrice Hastings, and the art student Jeanne Hébuterne – also played a significant role in his art and life. The exhibition will also feature works by Modigliani’s artist friends, such as Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brâncusi.

A lot has been written about Modigliani’s wild lifestyle. However, his rich oeuvre speaks of an artist with a profound knowledge of art from outside Europe and from ancient eras. An ambitious artist, Modigliani wanted to use his sculptures and paintings to create a new kind of aesthetic that would bring together art from different eras and continents. When he died, he was practically penniless: during his lifetime, he only held one solo exhibition, which caused a lot of controversy. In 2015, a Modigliani nude was sold for a record-high price of 170 million dollars.

A letter by Léopold Survage found at the Ateneum presents new information on Modigliani

The Ateneum collection includes what is presumably the only Finnish-owned Modigliani oil painting, Portrait of the Artist Léopold Survage (1918). When the Modigliani exhibition was being put together, a letter sent by Léopold Survage to the Ateneum in 1956 was discovered in the museum archives, in which he describes the circumstances around the painting’s creation and its provenance. The correspondence was related to the acquisition of the Modigliani piece and its inclusion in the Ateneum collection in 1955. The letter presents new information on Modigliani for international research. Léopold Survage (1879–1968) was one of Modigliani’s closest artist friends.

The chief curator of the Modigliani exhibition is Sophie Lévy, who previously worked as the director of the Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art. The other curators of the exhibition are Jeanne-Bathilde Lacourt and Marie-Amélie Senot. The chief curators Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff and Timo Huusko are responsible for the exhibition at the Ateneum end. The exhibition architect is Osmo Leppälä.

The exhibition has toured Lille and Budapest prior to Helsinki. It has been produced by La Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN) / Grand Palais and Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, in association with the Hungarian National Gallery / Budapest Museum of Fine Arts and the Ateneum Art Museum. The City of Helsinki supports the Modigliani exhibition.


Read more about the exhibition’s themes.


Additional information for our museum guests

The Eiffel Space. Photo: Osmo Leppälä
The Eiffel Space. Photo: Osmo Leppälä


The exhibition will feature the Eiffel activity space, which will host workshops and Italian language lessons. You can also book a Modigliani guided tour package for your group! Read more.


SAT 26 NOV, 14:00 || SAT 17 DEC, 14:00

Film screening: Les Amants de Montparnasse (The Lovers of Montparnasse), Ateneum Hall
Directed by Jacques Becker and Max Ophüls, 1958. Starring Gérard Philipe, Anouk Aimée and Lilli Palmer. This French-Italian film chronicles the last year of the life of the Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Duration 108 minutes, subtitled in English. In cooperation with: Institut français de Finlande (The French Institute of Finland). Admission included in the entrance fee.

THUR 10 NOV, 17:00 || THUR 1 DEC, 17:00 || THUR 26 JAN, 17:00
Lecture on Amedeo Modigliani (in Finnish)
The chief curator Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff will elaborate on the exhibition themes. Admission included in the entrance fee.

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