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Nassau County Museum of Art presents Modigliani and the Modern Portrait

originally published: 06/20/2023

Nassau County Museum of Art presents Modigliani and the Modern Portrait

Marybeth Rothman - Melody Hitchcock_24x24x2in_Photo and pigmented beeswax combines on Kozo and wood panel

(ROSLYN HARBOR, NY) -- Wherever and whenever Amedeo Modigliani’s paintings go on view, crowds gather, experts turn out to debate, social media lights up and auction records fall. This Modern master personally changed the history of the portrait, adding the emotional and painterly power that has inspired generations since his untimely demise, the archetypal story of the doomed Bohemian genius. The Nassau County Museum of Art presents Modigliani and the Modern Portrait from July 22-November 5, 2023. Curated by Dr. Kenneth Wayne, the world’s leading Modigliani scholar (founder of The Modigliani Project that researches the authenticity of works), this show will feature several spectacular paintings by the master, including the world premiere of two newly confirmed Modigliani paintings unveiled on this occasion.

Because these are some of the most renowned and treasured works of the twentieth century, the excitement surrounding this show also involves some of extremely distinguished lenders and provenances, including the family of Greta Garbo who was an early champion of Modigliani. A select group of world-renowned collectors have generously loaned their works to the most important exhibition mounted by this museum in recent years, building on the tradition of its record-shattering Chagall retrospective a decade ago as well as important surveys of Picasso and the School of Paris. Some of the lenders to the exhibition, including museum trustees Arthur S. Levine and Carol Wolowitz, have been longtime supporters of these historical and scholarly exhibitions. This exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive, full-color catalogue with essays by the curator and museum director Charles A. Riley, PhD as well as a fascinating appendix on the scientific methods that are applied to authenticating works of art of this value. Among the many programs scheduled are lectures by the curator and by the scientific team that uses imaging and chemical testing to prove that the works are genuine.

One of the most dramatic and passionate figures in the history of art, Amadeo Modigliani was born into genteel poverty (his family in Livorno, Italy had been wealthy landowners who lost their fortune) and moved to Paris at the very peak of the city’s excitement as an avant-garde capital, when Picasso and Matisse, whose work is also in the show, were among the stars on the scene. Recognized immediately by his rivals (notably Picasso) and by major collectors such as Dr. Albert Barnes as a singular figure with a style all his own—the elegant, serpentine posture of his portraits is unsurpassed in Modern art—Modigliani became all the more important after his early death from tuberculosis and the suicide of his young wife the day after. Few biographies can rival the romantic allure of his story, just as few artists can command the admiration of critics and historians that he does. Ken Wayne, the curator of the show, has written some of the most important books and curated many of the most important exhibitions devoted to this figure, the epitome of the avant-garde genius.

Nassau County Museum of Art presents Modigliani and the Modern Portrait

Marybeth Rothman - Syringa_48x36x2in_Photo and pigmented beeswax combines on Kozo and wood panel

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The show combines the brilliant colors and powerful linear style of Modigliani with works by contemporaries from the School of Paris, including Picasso, Matisse, Klimt, Lachaise, Laurencin, Foujita, Kisling, van Dongen, Soutine, Hockney to name a few, bringing to life the bohemian heyday of Montparnasse in Modigliani’s day. One of the fascinating insights offered by the exhibition is a new perspective on Modigliani’s Jewish identity and his connections to such artists as Kisling, Soutine, Pascin, Lipchitz and Chagall. Another significant aspect of the exhibition, an original interpretation of Modigliani’s place in history, is the way that it extends the idea of portraiture as Modigliani changed it to include Contemporary artists such as Eric Fischl, Elizabeth Peyton, George Condo, John Currin, Amy Tiffany Hemingway (who is related to both Louis Comfort Tiffany and Ernest Hemingway), Marybeth Rothman, Alice Neel and others. The legacy of Modigliani’s psychological depth resonates in the studios of our own time.

Marybeth Rothman is a Smithsonian Institution, National Portrait Gallery, Semifinalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2022. She is known for her fictional biographies and abstract narratives utilizing orphaned, vintage photographs, digital photographs, encaustic paint and mixed media. Her portrait, Augusta was featured in the World Trade Center Oculus in New York, NY, Ad Art 2020 exhibition. She was selected to participate in the Emerging Artists Series 2020 at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY. Her most recent solo exhibition Reclaimed and Reimagined was on view at The Mark Gallery and Lichtundfire in New York, NY. She was selected to exhibit in The Billboard Creative among an international group of artists that included Marilyn Minter, Laurie Simmons and Lawrence Weiner. The Billboard Creative transformed 31 Los Angeles billboards into public art spaces creating a citywide exhibition. Rothman exhibited in Ripped: The Allure of Collage at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, NY along with Roy Lichtenstein, Miriam Shapiro, Joseph Cornell, among others. She exhibited at both Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, MA and Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, NJ in the exhibition Swept Away: Translucence, Transparence, Transcendence in Contemporary Encaustic.

Her work can by be found in collections throughout the United States and abroad. Rothman’s work is available at Frederick Holmes and Company Gallery, Seattle, WA, Azart Gallery New York, NY, Mark Gallery, New York, NY and Laura Rathe Fine Art, Houston, TX.

Rothman was born in Taunton, MA and earned a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her home and studio are in New Jersey.

Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00am-4:45pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors (62 and above) and $5 for students and children (4 to12). Docent-led tours of the exhibition are offered at 2:00pm each day; tours of the mansion are offered each Saturday at 1:00pm.

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