Last night saw the private view of the Modigliani Opera on Bold St, the 360 Degree cinematic experience had finally arrived in Liverpool.
Waiting with great anticipation on the purposefully darkened lower level of 25 Bold St, we look toward the technology. Laid out we had sets of boxed in eye units and industrial scale headphones.
After a short period, we are given the chance to try out the units. In confusion, Italian is selected as the language, Amedeo Modigliani, the great painter was Italian, but also spoke impeccable French after spending most of his adult working life in Paris.
Eyes boxed in and earphones in place we are taken through a short enactment from the direct perspective of the artist. The 3D visuals effect real beyond belief. In the bar we have a man come forward and grapple over what felt like our leg, wincing in response. Equally, convincing was the life model, in Italian, I picked out the word ‘Prostitute’. In the early years of the twentieth century, prostitutes were often sought for life modelling, this was commonplace in Paris. Modigliani was also renowned for the use of sex workers for other purposes then simply modelling nude. The screenplay takes us through a scenario where the girl is enticing sex, it is very visual in 3D, as the viewer and a woman this brought on feelings of discomfort.
The main 360-degree cinematic experience was to follow. We are lead through to the arena where it was to be screened. All around us, there are visual platforms, utilised at varied points. We are taken through Modigliani’ life, starting with his birth in Livorno in difficult financial circumstances. Progressing through his upbringing in Tuscany to his artist’ working life in the Bohemian, studio lined district of Montmartre, Paris. The screening incorporates the use of actors, filmed with traditional methods to stills of the artworks created by Modigliani. We gain an insight into his addiction to narcotics and alcohol, however, the Foundation argues that this appears to have been greatly exaggerated over the period elapsed from his death. They note that the use of hashish and the drinking of absinthe were not unusual in the artist communities of the period.
The film escorts us through more life modelling, reclined nudes in particular to Modigliani premature death to Tuberculosis at the age of thirty-five. Jeanne Hetbuterne, the love he spent the last few years of his life with is portrayed. Several days after his death she throws herself from her parent’s apartment window. Heavily pregnant, she, and her unborn child are killed on impact.
A sub-plot takes us from the start and at the end to the auction house, Christie’s of New York. In his lifetime he struggled financially, often selling drawings for the price of a meal, his painting never selling for more than a hundred and fifty Franks. After his death the price of his works increased sharply, there are recollections of art dealers re-negotiating prices at his funeral. In today’s market, his sculptures and paintings sell for Millions of, in this case, dollars.
The Modigliani Opera, a great experience, an insight into experimental new media and most of all it demonstrates how the artist and his works are as relevant today as when the oils were wet on the canvas.