Title:HeadArtist:Amedeo Modigliani Date:1911-1912Creation Place:Europe, ItalyCredit Line:Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John CowlesAccession Number:62.73.1
Fifty years ago the MIA acquired two works of art that have much in common although they were produced over 4000 years apart. Amedeo Modigliani was a painter who concentrated on the human figure, primarily portraits and nudes. In 1909, he became interested in trying his hand at sculpture and became a student of Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian minimalist sculptor whose Golden Bird can be seen in Gallery 369.
Modigliani preferred not to reduce form to the extreme that Brancusi did; instead he choose to continue his exploration of the essence of humanity. He looked to Egyptian, African, and above all archaic Greek art -specifically from the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea-for the shorthand glyphs that they used for the representation of human features. The balance of curves and angularities of the MIA's Cycladic figure (adjacent) are remarkably similar, and it could be argued that Modigliani's art was one of the main reasons that modern art collectors in the 20th century avidly sought Cycladic sculpture.