Monday, November 4, 2013

Modì's Heads

In 1909 Amedeo Modigliani, back in Livorno from Paris, was testing his skills as sculptor working on some stone heads. His friends weren't enthusiasts of the results and made fun of him: legend has it that the angry artist threw his works in the waters of the nearby Fosso Reale (Royal Canal).
Fosso Reale, Livorno
In 1984 Livorno was in the process of commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Amedeo Modigliani, when it was suggested to dredge that part of canal to see if the above mentioned heads could be recovered and eventually put on display.
Fake Modigliani's heads, Livorno
[Photo by unknown author]
After a few days of work, three crudely sculpted heads were found in the canal and the story made the news around the world. Noted art historians recognized the sculptures as authentic and our city basked for a while in the glory of the recovery of these lost masterpieces.
Fake Modigliani's heads, Livorno
[Photo by unknown author]
Then three students said that they had carved one of the heads with a Black & Decker, while a dockworker released a video showing that he was the author of the other two. The whole world laughed, Pisans had a field day, and real heads rolled. The fake ones quietly found their way into some warehouse.
Now some brilliant minds want to waste 45.000 Euro of public money to display the three fakes and the story of the hoax. Evidently, it would not be enough to put them in a room somewhere with a simple explicative panel.

External links: Modigliani Dredgers Find 2 Heads in Canal (The New York Times)
- The Modigliani Practical Joke of Livorno (Best Hoaxes and Pranks)
- Fake Modigliani heads get a Museum of their own – thirty years after the controversial hoax (ArtIsLife)


Barbara Farr said...


Jack said...

I did not recall that Modigliani was from Livorno. The tale of the fakes is kind of funny, but not so funny that so much money should be spent on it.

Taken For Granted said...

What a great story associated with one of the giants of the art world. Too bad the sculptures were fakes. Thank you for sharing the story and photos.

Dina said...

Wasting lots of money on this deserves a string of expletives on the explicative panel.
Actually, I rather like the faces the young pranksters created.

Cezar and Léia said...

Really interesting and your pictures are great!I'm always learning with your posts, thanks for sharing!

cieldequimper said...

Keep calm... ;-)

At least they were good looking. The pranksters, I mean.

Traveling Hawk said...

An interesting story!

Luis Gomez said...

Thank you VP.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger (大哥) said...

Thanks for the great historical lesson, though I can see why his mates laughed at the faces! Anyhow, it must have been a very exciting discovery :)

Duncan In Kuantan

Michelle said...

An interesting story, VP!

Gunn said...

Nice and interesting posting.
Perhaps EU will pay for showing this in several EU countries?
Than Italy might EARN money on the ART?)

(Norway, is not in the EU, so we might have to pay even more?)

Anyway, as I said another interesting posting from you.

JM said...

What a story! Thanks for sharing it, VP.

Arianna said...

Me lo ricordo sì, che risate in tutto il mondo! Ciao, Arianna