Handsome guy surrounded by gnomes with bad skin

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Wonderful, catty Robert Hughes piece about the Modigliani show (up to Sept. 19) at New York’s Jewish Museum in this morning’s Guardian. Read.

Among other things, Hughes says the artist’s work is overrated and overvalued due partly to a combination of his Hollywood-like life story (sex! drugs! handsome guy dies young!) and his pretty (inoffensive?) work which includes portraits that are all the same mask, and sprawling nudes with topiary pubic hair. Apparently, the show at the Jewish Museum doesn’t have some of the artist’s best work, and Hughes does give him credit for a couple of good portraits — of Jean Cocteau and Max Jacob (shown)). Mostly, he seems to think the artist was sleepwalking through his paintings.

Hughes uses Modigliani’s nickname (Modi) throughout the article (“Modi” for “painter maudit” (cursed painter)) which is amusing. And in a parting shot across the bow, here’s what he says about some of Modigliani’s big bucks collectors:

you can see why the Japanese are so nuts about Modi-san and, back in the days when they ruled the auction rooms, why Japanese collectors paid such extreme prices for his nudes; they are almost pure ukiyo-e, “paintings of the floating world”: golden-skinned Paris geishas without their kimonos on.

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