Amedeo Modigliani, Young Woman of the People, 1918, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Frances and Armand Hammer Purchase Fund

Amedeo Modigliani’s Young Woman of the People

November 15, 2016

One of the most beloved portraits on view at LACMA is Amedeo Modigliani’s Young Woman of the People, on view in the modern art galleries. Next time you come to LACMA, take in the stunning painting and consider the following:

  1. At the time the portrait was painted, African art was flooding Paris, where Modigliani lived and worked. Many artists were influenced by African art; this is evident in Modiglian’s portrait in the elongation of features, close-set eyes, and small mouth often seen in African masks.
  2. The woman in question is depicted as a member of the working class. Some clues to her identity are her large, rough hands, highlighted against the dark background, and her rolled-up sleeves. 
  3. Modigliani was influenced by the work of Cézanne. In fact, he was known to have carried around a reproduction of a painting by Cézanne; if anyone spoke of the great artist, Modigliani would take it out and kiss it.
  4. Modigliani was interested in the humanity and life of his subjects, and primarily painted portraits, often of his friends and fellow artists. He always painted from live models. 
  5. Though he was ill with tuberculosis and died at the young age of 35, Modigliani was known for his big personality and dapper style. Picasso referred to him as the only artist who knew how to dress. 

Below, educator Michelle Brenner talks about Young Woman of the People. Learn more about Modigliani, and visit this stunning portrait in the Ahmanson Building, Level 2.