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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Modigliani exhibit

The Obecni Dum (Public House) has been advertising a Amedeo Modigliani exhibit for months now, and it has been open since December. Modigliani is that early-20th century artist who painted women, portraits and nudes, that mostly look like a bit of caracature made into art. Well-done work for the time, and cutting against the prevailing current of life figure artistry.

Asia and I went today, like we were going on a date (what fun!), with a plan to eat Chinese at this good place in the center of Prague. The line for tickets was deep, with one person working the cash desk (this observation is significant, as you’ll learn).

We walked up the three flights of carpeted stairs. Obecni Dum is a grand building designed in the art neuveau style. It has two coffee bars, two restaurants, a bar called The American Bar, and a concert hall that seats 2,000. It also has exhibition space. This is upstairs, and that’s where we climbed.

Modigliani left behind some 350 pieces of art, including drawings, sculptures, and his iconic paintings. This exhibit advertised the largest gathering of the painter’s works in decades. So we entered.

The first hall was mostly photographs of Modigliani and Paris in the twenties. His work here consisted of drawings (light pencil sketches that barely showed on the paper) that he used to whip up in Paris caf├ęs for a free glass of wine.

In the adjoining hall, more drawings, mostly, with some early paintings. At the end of this hall, there were hung five of his iconic portraits. None of them were his nudes. This exhibit sucked. It cost 200 Kc.

We stood in line for the tickets longer than we walked through the exhibit. And this is typical with exhibits in Prague’s city-center. The organizers (Czech gov’t ??) must think that this is an easy way to get lots of tourist money. A total rip-off. Boo-hiss!

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