Modigliani and the Montparnasse Adventure - Masterpieces from the Netter and Alexandre Collections
The news begins to spread in the city and in local newspapers from Friday 30 August 2019: Livorno will finally host an exhibition dedicated to its most famous fellow citizen, Amedeo Modigliani. Only the signatures on the contract and the approval of the budget adjustment are missing, then in the Museum of the city of Livorno will arrive 122 works belonging to the prestigious Jonas Netter collection, one of the most important collectors of the works of the artists of the so-called Paris school. It is a race against time for the municipality of Livorno established for just over two months, but the municipal offices are working so that to be ready for this great exhibition that it will open its doors from 7 November 2019 to 16 February 2020, in the year of the centenary of the artist's death. In addition to Modigliani's absolute masterpieces, visitors will have the chance to admire the works of Chaïm Soutine, Maurice Utrillo, Suzanne Valadon, Moise Kisling, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminick and others among the artists who frequented Montparnasse at the beginning of the recent past. The exhibition will be curated by the French art historian and expert of Modigliani Marc Restellini former director of the Museum of Luxembourg and the Pinacothèque de Paris, who is working on the reasoned catalogue of Modigliani's works that will be published in 2020. It is said that when the councillor for culture Simone Lenzi launched the idea during a recent City Council presenting it as the midsummer night's dream, the mayor Luca Salvetti brightened up and said: «I want to do it, we said that we must have courage, this is the righ opportunity to show it». From there, in absolute secrecy and with the road all uphill, the administration started to work and in the next few hours should lead to the formalization of an event that for Livorno has an exceptional value, from many points of view: 1) Rebuilding the city's identity to excape from a historical background that has always made us feel like a "cultural Cinderella of Tuscany"; 2) the attempt to transform this city into a cultural center on a national and international level, because after this exhibition we could try to continue with this trend by set up other shows; 3) a reconciliation many times attempted but never really successful between Modigliani and his city, after the bad hoax of fake Amedeo Modigliani head sculptures of 1984; 4) a potentially astonishing economic impact, not only because from November to February a hundred ships are expected on the docks of our port (tourists who would finally have a reason to stay in the city), but above all because in those months Livorno could really compete with Pisa and Florence as an artistic-cultural attraction even for those arriving in Tuscany also by land, just think that Modigliani exhibition at the Palazzo Blu in Pisa in 2015 saw over 100 thousand visitors; 5) the need that the city, in all its structures, public, private, social, commercial, artistic, to organize itself (and quickly) to be able to respond to a world-class event.
The will of the Municipality is therefore to invest in cultural events even after the Modigliani exhibition, in fact in the agreement that will probably be signed on 13 September with the Institut Restellini, the exhibition setup it will not be provided, this it will be the role of the Fondazione Goldoni. As Salvetti says about the the exhibition setup, «it will be a dress that we will give to the current shape of the museum and that we can reuse later, so that the museum lives by proposing different things over time: we no longer want a museum with only a permanent exhibition where visitor comes only for one time, this restyling will guarantee the possibility to organize other specific exhibitions. We have the spaces, the set-up for this exhibition will be ad hoc to allow the permanent exhibition to remain as it is now, by using other spaces for new temporary exhibitions. It is an investment we make with conviction».
To underline the importance of this exhibition is also the expert Carlo Pepi, first to report the fake Modigliani works in Genoa: «this event will be the most beautiful and important in the whole history of Livorno». «Now the city faces another challenge - continues Carlo Pepi - to strike the final blow: recover the three sculptures, at the moment kept in a bank vault, sculpted by Modigliani during the trip of 1909, works that were left to a fruit vendor who worked at the Central Market of the city, a stone's throw from the artist's studio». «They are authentic works» reiterates Pepi that concludes «on Modigliani's works I never made a mistake».
And the signature arrives on Monday 16 September 2019..
It is a historic day - comments the mayor Luca Salvetti -, because «Modigliani's exhibition is a cure that the city must do with respect to its own history, to a difficult relationship with its own most famous son, the one that should be also the most loved. It is a way to give to the artist a right welcome». «Many mornings I woke up with the fear that this exhibition could skip, that something could go wrong», confides, before signing, the mayor to Restellini, speaking in English in the Salone delle Ceremonie of the Municipality in front of the image of the "Little girl in blue", «a painting that speaks for itself, an image of a emotional and profound timidity that we chose because it recalls the desire to go back home, the desire that Modigliani has always had», explained the councillor for culture Simone Lenzi.
Marc Restellini confides the same happiness to the mayor: «I too - whispers to the mayor in English - I was so looking forward to this moment. It is also very important for me to bring Modigliani back to Livorno». The Modigliani specialist also announces that 12 drawings from the Alexandre collection will most likely be added to the 14 Modigliani works of the Netter collection. For the first time in history, the works of the two most important collectors of Modigliani, Paul Alexandre and Jonas Netter, could be brought together in Livorno.
«In Livorno Modigliani developed his creative ability and Jewish spiritualism: my gladness is his return home» comments Marc Restellini, who adds «it is a return home, to a place that has so much meaning for his formation. In Livorno, Modigliani developed his creative ability and Jewish spiritualism which are the foundation of his history». «In 2020, the centenary year of his death - explains the curator of the exhibition -, we will have many commitments, from Vienna to the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico city (Mexico). A free space remained just in January 2020, when the anniversary will occur: that date could not be celebrated better than with an exhibition in the artist's home. I have to congratulate with the Municipality of Livorno: for the courageous choice and for the quickness shown. Times have been very tight. I must admit that this exhibition in Livorno fills me with joy». «Everything revolves around Léopold Zborowski - he continues -, an exhibitor of early 20th century Paris and Jonas Netter, a true collector, moved by empathy towards the artists and always careful to maintain a certain balance in his collection. No name prevailed over the others. He did excellent business, if we think that he bought Modigliani paintings for 50 Francs, unlike Rockefeller who could spend much more for Picasso, but over time he showed his skill and intuition. Netter went on to collect more than 60 Modigliani works, which he never sold if not rarely and never to play upward, but with the only aim of making him known. His collection was divided between his two sons and the one we will propose in show belongs to one of the two». A journalist ask to Restellini if there is a risk to see again what happened at the Palazzo Ducale of Genoa. «Those who try to place fake paintings don't really appreciate me - he smiles, referring to the fact that it was he, together with Carlo Pepi, who denounced the fakes of Genoa -. I would say that we do not risk this danger: I sent many forgers in jail ...»
«We were in the Council hall, when Simone Lenzi told us that we would have the opportunity to host a such a major Modigliani exhibition. We looked at each other, I said without thinking twice: "It must be done" ». Luca Salvetti told this anecdote and adds "then came the doubts of all the councilors and their right objections: after listening carefully, I said that the key it would be the courage. And today I repeat: with the homework this city does not go anywhere. Of course, the risk must be calculated, but with a general commitment we can make a qualitative leap, that's what I want ». «From that moment on - Salvetti continues - a widespread work started by all the councilors, all the components of the municipal administration, from the manager to the Baldi culture, to the general manager of Falleni to the municipal secretary Massai. Thetown Council worked with great enthusiasm and relentlessly together with the offices, Many things have developed far beyond our initial expectations, the questions dissolved, and we have reached today at the signing of the contract, with the fundamental involvement of the Fondazione Goldoni. I have to say that after the news was been widespread, there was a reaction from many interested parties: the Fondazione Livorno was the first to support us on this road, confirming the centrality of the work that that carries on for our city». And Riccardo Vitti, president of the Fondazione Livorno, together with Luciano Barsotti, president of the Fondazione Arte e Cultura, said he was «close to the choices of this administration. We have joined with great enthusiasm by supporting this event». «Modigliani - continued the mayor - wanted to come back to Livorno in 1920, in the last year of his life, to live here with his Jeanne - continues Salvetti -. That's was what he had said to his Parisian painter friends. But destiny had other plans for him. So after 100 years from his death we managed, with great courage, to bring back Dedo in his city. The soul represented by his works, the most beautiful, which for four months they will find their home in the halls of the Museo della città. Here we will create a new set-up, to be used for subsequent exhibitions: it will be like an elegant dress to show off in the most beautiful situations». «I am sure that Livorno will reply with a great participation, by recovering the cultural identity that has distinguished the city in the past centuries. We want to see many other events built around to this great one. We need the help of everyone to do it. Almost all political forces understood the importance of what we were doing - continued Salvetti -. And walking around the city I found all people very happy to see that something of very important is going to happen in Livorno».
The countdown begins: 50 days to equip the Museo della città with all necessary requirements to host a such important exhibition (new and impressive alarm system, sensors for protection for works of art suspended on the wall, air conditioning and specific lighting for the halls), in addition to a series of operations aimed at redevelopment the whole surrounding area, including the rebuilding of the sidewalks and the refashion of the road surface especially in the Piazza del Luogo Pio (in front of the Museum) which will be liberate from cars, at least for the duration of the exhibition. In the meantime the site of the Modigliani exhibition is online, while the divulgation activity it is entrusted by the facebook page of the Museo della città.
Marc Restellini presents the official logo for the Modigliani 2020 centenary which a series of cultural events focusing on the life and art of Amedeo Modigliani will be linked. This post published on the Facebook page of the Institut Restellini, also wants to be a call for those who intend to propose an event linked to the celebrations for the 100 years since the death of the great artist.
A look behind the scenes of the Museo della città di Livorno where a real revolution of the indoor rooms to host the Modigliani exhibition and of the artists of the School of Paris is in progress.
The works proceeds at lightning speed and between 28 and 29 October, the artworks arrive at the Museo della città escorted by the police and the special departments - photos by Livorno Today.
Through a post on Linkedin, Marc Restellini gives us a preview of the exhibition. «We worked hard to prepare the exhibition 'Modigliani and the Montparnasse Adventure' which will open this Thursday 7 November at the Museum of the City of Livorno, the Modigliani's birthplace. We hope to see you there» - writes the French art historian.
Everything is ready for the vernissage of the exhibition "Modigliani and the Montparnasse Adventure - Masterpieces from the Netter and Alexandre Collections"
The exhibition "Modigliani and the Montparnasse Adventure - Masterpieces from the Netter and Alexandre Collections", organized by the Municipality of Livorno together with the Restellini Institute of Paris with the participation of the Fondazione Livorno, opens in the presence of the mayor of Livorno Luca Salvetti, of the councilor for culture Simone Lenzi, of the curator of the exhibition Marc Restellini and with the coordinator of the project Sergio Risaliti (artistic director of the Museo Novecento in Florence). «I refused many offers - Restellini says during the conference - but I accepted Livorno. I also refused the Tate Gallery cause I wanted to bring home Modigliani». «The vision of the world of a person is formed in its childhood and adolescence - explains Councilor Lenzi - and it is precisely that which accompanied Modigliani in his art and which we can see here in this exhibition today». «Today there is so much emotion - confesses the mayor of Livorno - and I don't hide it at all. A unique moment of its kind and an equally unique exhibition, the greatest cultural event from the post-war period to today that we have the honor to hosting».
The catalog of the exhibition "Modigliani and the adventure of Montparnasse - masterpieces from the Netter and Alexandre collections", edited by Marc Restellini is published by Sillabe. This volume is also intended as a guide to the artistic personalities who gravitated around the figure of Modigliani (including Soutine, Valadon, Utrillo, Kisling, Derain to name a few), narrating their particular biographies with captivating style and tracing a portrait of the Paris at the beginning of the century. Together with the images of the 134 works on display, all large sizes which offer to satisfy the chromatic fullness of the paintings, the reader will also find a rich apparatus of vintage photographs. A concise and useful chronology integrate the information, allowing to frame on an historical and historical-artistic level, the peculiarity of this unrepeatable moment of artistic explosion and cosmopolitan coexistence of great personalities of art, of the literature and science too.
It is a demanding and very fascinating catalog: I went to Sillabe publishing house, on the Scali D'Azeglio, to ask the people who worked on its realization how they dealt with this work and to understand what are the differences between this one and the catalog of the exhibition "Modigliani, Soutine and the Cursed Artists. The Netter collection" held in Milan in 2013 and in Rome in 2013-14. It is first of all a new translation admirably edited by Giulia Bastianelli, who has been able to update and make the text fluid, maintaining the discursive and at times very incisive of distinctive Marc Restellini's style. The iconographic apparatus deserves a separate matter: the catalog winds with the story of the life of the authors of the Montparnasse period, the Modigliani's friends, but first of all authors of whom Jonas Netter collected the works, while he was helping and subsidizes these artists, in their adventure of very eventful lifes. It was therefore necessary to fill these stories with the photographic images of the time and with the reproductions of their other important works not included in the exhibition: this is the great value of this book not to be missed!
In addition, the Modigliani exhibition in Livorno also displays 12 drawings from the Paul Alexandre collection, another extremely important figure in the artistic panorama at the time and in the life of the livornese artist, so cleverly told always by Marc Restellini. All this is completed by a very fine presentation by the councillor for culture Simone Lenzi, also a renowned writer, and an ad hoc introduction by Marc Restellini, dedicated to the Livorno exhibition. Particular attention has been paid to the care of the colors (the images were provided by the Pinacothèque de Paris) to have a well-calibrated result that responds to the delicate nuances of the works. We are faced with a pleasant reading book, a quite atypical as exhibition catalog, a divulging text, pleasant to scroll and read, not exactly technical or historical-artistic book, but also rich of stories, episodes and original letters of the various protagonists.
The activity of the Sillabe publishing house was also focused on the creation of dedicated merchandise, a sector in which it has been engaged for years with great success, realizing a series of products specially created for the exhibition and which will represent a pleasant memory for the visitor; at the bookshop you can find posters, postcards, magnets, cups, clutch bags, pens and more as well as a fine silk foulard. In addition, the artists of the social cooperative "brikke-brakke" have created a line of ceramic jewels dedicated to Modì, which are also on sale in the small but valuable bookshop of the exhibition.
Sergio Mattarella, the President Of The Italian Republic, visited the exhibition dedicated to Amedeo Modigliani for the centenary of the artist's birth. The president, accompanied by the mayor Luca Salvetti, the councilor for culture Simone Lenzi and the coordinator of the exhibition Sergio Risaliti, was remain for a long time inside the exhibition and in particular to admire the symbol of the exhibition "la fillette en bleu".
All parallel events in the italian version