City guide

A new Modigliani exhibit opens in Budapest

Photo : Hartyányi Norbert - We Love Budapest

The short lifetime of Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani produced one of the most significant bodies of work in the 20th-century art world. The Hungarian public never had the chance to admire an exhibition of Modigliani’s entire oeuvre before, which is no surprise considering that the world’s largest museums wait in line to display his works. Thus it’s a huge success that after opening a grand Picasso exhibit this spring, the Hungarian National Gallery managed to organize another world-class art display, both of which will be on view until the end of July in the same building.

Amedeo Modigliani, born in Livorno, Italy in 1884, was one of the most influential artists of the last century, although his genius for portraits and nudes went unrecognized by the global art community until after his untimely death at the age of 35. He was a cultured visionary, read a lot, and after moving to Paris, he often visited the Louvre and soon became involved in the artistic circles (and legendary nightlife) of the Montparnasse, becoming friends with many of the household-name artists who lived there at the same time.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
Among his works, we can find sculptures made from everyday materials, avant-garde portraits depicting is fellow artists made around the time of World War I, and also some more recent nudes with classical antecedents.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
The portraits depict such renowned personalities such as Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Jean Cocteau, Diego Rivera, and Celso Lagar.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
The organizers of the exhibition outlined this complicated yet highly interconnected circle of artists on a wall in the third section of the exhibition, with photographs, some text, and infographics.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
The exhibition, curated by Anna Zsófia Kovács, showcases not only 61 original works of Modigliani, but also artworks from his contemporaries, such as Béla Czóbel, whom Modigliani knew well during his years in Paris.

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest

During the guided press tour of the exhibition, Laurent Salomé, the scientific director of Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais told us that the artworks of the Italian-born artists are especially valuable treasures, and are not lent out to other display spaces very often. However, they participated in several large collaborations with Budapest institutions, namely the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hungarian National Gallery. Interestingly, there’s a large-scale exhibition right now in the French capital, more precisely in the Musée du Luxembourg, with the title “Chefs-d’œuvre de Budapest”.
Photo: Norbert Hartyányi/We Love Budapest
It’s no exaggeration to say that – following on the success of the Picasso exhibition – it is very impressive that the Hungarian National Gallery could obtain even more world-class artwork, and organize a wonderful exhibition once again. Even on a global level, only the most famous museums can acquire the works of Picasso and Modigliani, especially at the same time. Moreover, both exhibitions will be on view until the end of July at the same place, and in the same building.

The Modigliani exhibition is now on view until the end of October in the Hungarian National Gallery.