A Wild Ride through Europe’s Art World with LOVING MODIGLIANI
- Book: Loving Modigliani
- Location: Montparnasse, Paris
- Author: Linda Lappin
What a delight, while weathering an extended home-stay that has kept me healthy but restless and consumed by an unfulfilled desire for travel, to come across Loving Modigliani!
Linda Lappin’s new novel examines the complicated real and imagined aftermaths of the 1920 death of the artist Jeanne Hébuterne, lover and wife of the painter, Amadeo Modigliani. Little known at the time of her fatal fall from a window two days after Modigliani’s own demise from tuberculosis, Hébuterne has since emerged from the obscurity to which early 20th-century women artists were too often relegated. She is listed on Wikipedia today, no mean achievement for any female artist. Her art, so long missing, forgotten, or sequestered, is now in demand.
Linda Lappin’s new book, published by Serving House Press, is largely set in the period before this became so.
I anticipated a somber story. After all, Hébuterne’s paintings and sketches had disappeared from the couple’s shared studio following her too-early death. Instead, I found Loving Modigliani more lively than expected. Lappin’s fictional account not only shadows Hébuterne’s ghost through the afterlife but also takes us along on the posthumous hunt by the living for her missing artwork. What results is a wild journey through darker corners of the European art world.
Lappin guides us through a creepy villa outside Rome, ornate and squalid Montparnasse studios, a swanky Venetian palazzo and much more. Art history, thriller, fictionalized memoir, and travel accounts are deftly layered to reveal a rich universe peopled with artists, dealers, students, crooks, and mysterious strangers (with maybe a murderer tossed into the mix) over the century following Hébuterne’s fatal tumble. All are presented in exquisite detail, with characters and actions evocative of their respective eras.
If life has grown dull, if you can’t travel right now, and want to, take a break. Ease into the armchair, open Loving Modigliani, and get ready for a whirlwind journey! –Shelley Buck