"What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious, the mystery of the instinctive in the human race." These words by Amadeo Modigliani, one of the greatest portraitists of 20th century, perfectly describe his work of art. Being "too human" to be interested in painting objects of mineral immobility, Modigliani concentrated on depicting human figures...with eyes reflecting their souls.
Projection of the Body Image is a mental representation we create of what we think we look like, a so-called mental model of ourselves that exists in our unconscious. If we consider Modigliani's works as his Body Image we could analyze the artist’s physical and mental condition at the time. Features such as eyes, neck, head, nose, lips and other elements depicted on the canvas by the artist give us an image of a mentally ill man with substance disorder, who seemed to be constantly passing through the inferno of his passions and could never actually overcome them. Modigliani's main subject matter – portraits - reveals his terror of loneliness. Unfailingly beautiful eyes in his figures are blank holes or half-opened; in practice this emphasizes the patient’s emotional immaturity, lack of confidence and desire to keep the world out; figures with slightly enlarged heads bowed towards left or right signify that the subject loses control over himself. An elongated neck was usually depicted by psychosexually undeveloped schizophrenics; it seems like Modigliani's distorted neck tells about the conflict of his mind with his body and its constant physical impulses. His noses and mouths represent the features of sexual infantilism, imposed by his sickness and addiction to alcohol and drugs. Modi suffered a lot, "his dreams of physical vigor were at odds with the failing of his body, his desires for glory rebelled against the frustrations and poverty of reality", working in his own unique style and being convinced of his artistic genius, he lived in the shadow of Cubism, the dominant style at the time and the success of other artists of Montmartre, receiving international acclaim only after his death.
I don't know whether it was the artist's imagination or the symptoms analyzed above were truly reflected in Modi's works. But again it’s his art that matters. Modigliani created figures, “the most naked nudes in the history of art” that seem to be beyond individuality. They are “waiting”, depicted almost always sitting with their hands folded in their laps, looking into infinity, withdrawn into themselves; they are the true embodiments of the concept of time, which Modigliani did not have. Doctor Felix Marti Ibanez said: “There is only one way to defeat death - to live fast”. Modigliani lived, painted and loved fast. His psychological dependence embraced not only alcohol and drugs but art and love. He loved women obsessively and in his letter to one of his mistresses he confesses: Vous êtes en moi comme une hantise (Obsessively you are a part of me)”.
Modigliani's mistress Beatrice Hasting said of him: “A complex character. A swine and a pearl. Met him in 1914 at a crémerie. I sat opposite him. Hashish and brandy. Not at all impressed. Didn’t know who he was. He looked ugly, ferocious and greedy. Met him again at the Café Rotonde. He was shaved and charming. Raised his cap with a pretty gesture, blushed and asked me to come and see his work. And I went. He always had a book in his pocket. Lautrémont’s Maldoror. He had no respect for anyone except Picasso and Max Jacob. Detested Cocteau. Never completed anything good under the influence of hashish.” Great description!