Portrait of Jean CocteauPortrait
of Jean Cocteau Painting by Amedo Modigalini
Portrait of Jean Cocteau
Modigliani painted a series of portraits of contemporary artists and friends in Montparnasse. Chaim Soutine, Moise Kisling, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Juan Gris, Max Jacob and Jean Cocteau – all sat for stylized rendition.
Jean Cocteau was a prolific French poet, novelist, critic, essayist, artist as well as film maker. He was born into a middle class Parisian family and his father died when Jean was about ten years old. Paris Cafes, boulevards, theaters, salons, galleries and lovers provided him a lifeline of education and entertainment. He wrote several poems and also volunteered as an ambulance driver in 1914, at the outbreak of the war. He worked with Modigliani, Guillame Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Pablo Picasso and a host of other literary, artistic and musical innovators. As a young man, Cocteau sought collaboration with older men, but soon he found a series of younger lovers and collaborators.
In this portrait, the painter has achieved a likeness, emphasizing Cocteau’s
chiseled features and hollowed cheeks, his distinctive bone structure
and pinched mouth. The subject’s illuminated head is simplified
and placed at an angle to the columnar neck. Modigliani has used the abstracted
simplified shape of the face derived by African sources.
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