Virtual reality to bring alive Modigliani’s Paris

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The Modigliani show will include (left) Jeanne Hebuterne 1919 and (right) The Little Peasant 1918

By BBC

Early 20th Century Paris will be brought to life by virtual reality at a Modigliani exhibition this autumn.

Visitors to the show at Tate Modern will be able to wear VR headsets which will allow them to step into the artist’s adopted city.

Curator Nancy Ireson said virtual reality would “bring a new dimension” to the exhibition.

“It doesn’t take away from the art, it helps us to better understand it,” she told the BBC.

“By using VR we want to feel closer to Paris as a city, the exhibition is about feeling connected with a particular place.”

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The virtual reality room at Tate Modern will be the first time the gallery has used such technology for a major show.

The exhibition, billed as the most comprehensive of the Italian artist’s work ever held in the UK, will bring together a group of 10 nudes portraits that proved controversial in the artist’s day.

Reclining Nude 1919Image copyrightMUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK
Image captionReclining Nude 1919 – Museum of Modern Art, New York

Modigliani’s only solo exhibition in his lifetime – at Berthe Weill’s Paris gallery in 1917 – was raided by police on the grounds of indecency.

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A nude portrait hung in the front window caught the attention of a police commissioner who lived opposite.

Ms Ireson said: “What shocked Modigliani’s contemporaries about his nudes was not that they were naked – people for centuries had been painting nude women – but the fact that they had pubic hair.

“This seems to have caused a real stir and some of the paintings had to be taken down.”

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She explained that such was the attitude toward female body hair around that time that it was even recommended that women use radiation to remove it.

Born in Livorno in 1884, Amedeo Modigliani produced some of the most memorable art of the early 20th Century and is famous for his elongated portraits.

He moved to the French capital in 1906 where he was influenced by a new artistic community that included Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He died in Paris in 1920, aged just 35, of tubercular meningitis.

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