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INTERNATIONAL: JAYBIRD (Mafch, April, May issue) oaae lst irs ly by Sun Era, Inc., Fulton Ave., North Houynosa.” talifoyni, is ‘a cultural, seve, educa- LA TERRASSE A TANGIERS tional, snd. sociological pubiication produced and distributed to illumi- nate the conviction that the’ un- clothed human body is worthy of

A NEW LOOK AT ORGIES fespect and deserving of Increased

sopsptance in oes cas Copy: ; ecsptanes oe ou, cat (article) By JIM DOWNS a ae en eG Cee ty ack oe eae duced without written permission. NUDITY ON THE NORTH SEA RE ee ‘scription correspondence to Sun Era, Inc., Box 9366, North Holly- wood, California. Unsolicited manu- scripts and photographs will not be returned unless accompanied by stamped self-addressed envelope. Subscription. rates by first-class « mail, $12.00 ‘per year. Distributed exclusively by Parliament News, sacle Mea aane, Non






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“The Colonel's lady and Judy O’Grady are sisters under the skin,” wrote English poet Rudyard Kipling many years ago. He. also wrote “East is East and West is West, and never the wwain shall meet,” a statement considerably less demonstrable than the first, in the light of thé-way the world seems to be turning.

On a global scale it could also be said that all men are brothers— practically twin-brothers under their respective garments, adorn- ments, costumes and uniforms they may wear in public; people are still people and always are much more alike than they are different.

Jaybirds particularly know this to be true as an experienced and demonstrated fact, not just as ab- stract theory. The casual clothesless- ness of a Jaybird situation makes it immediately apparent that there is a basic configuration shared by all mankind. As Julian Huxley said: “We are all featherless bipeds.”

Jaybirds have a unique respon- siveness to this essential oneness of mankind, because we do—at appro- priate times—put aside the clothing which symbolizes the various roles we play in our “society.” Freed of the garments and the uniforms which artificially accentuate the differ- ences between us, we find that we are almost magically more recep-

tive, more open, more awake to mutually satisfying communication with others.

As a result the Jaybird has the best of both worlds. He is able to appreciate the differences between people, and the variety of interesting situations and contrasts which these differences make possible. However, this is balanced by the knowledge that there are also times and places for appreciation of the similarities between people. Thus clothing (cos- tumes, uniforms, whatever) is put into proper perspective, It is recog- nized as an essential ingredient in the social games which emphasize differences, but it is not permitted to remain as a psychic barrier be- tween those human beings who choose now and then to relax and be simply plain unadorned human.

We do not suggest that a world- wide splurge of Jaybirding would produce instant salvation for all mankind, for the simple reason that we consider both Jaybirding and sal- vation to be fundamentally individ- ual enterprises, to be undertaken only when each person feels he is personally ready.

We do however believe that example is more useful than the- ory. Therefore, INTERNATIONAL JAYBIRD is designed to provide illustrated reports of Jaybird activ- ity all over the world. Even as we recognize that nudity emphasizes the common brotherhood of homo sa- piens, we can and do appreciate the many different ways in which this nudity is experienced.

Viva la Unite!

Vive la Difference!

Most houses are built around an inner court giving privacy which makes nudity simple and, as with our trio, obviously enjoyable! The “colonial” French tend to be hedonistic, just as they would be living back in Paris.

Friendly horseplay and clowning on a sunny North African afternoon, in a comfortable and relaxed naked- ness, is “the only way to fly”, say these Jaybirds. All over the’civilized world this sort of thing is going on without names or club organization = so while the title “Jaybird” is new, the tendency is historically a very well-established thing. We like to bring you reports, photographic and textual, of nude living wher- ever it may be, whenever possible.

An orgy is where you find it and often it is only in your own mind.

“Whether in fantasy or reality, the conflicting emotions of this genera- tion have been poignantly stated in these four brilliant lines by one of the nation’s foremost humorous poets and students of the present scene.

For many of us the “orgy” is no more than a titillating subject for the college dormitory bull-session. the expose-type magazine, and the private erotic day-dream. Colorful exaggeration of size, kind and dura- tion is a prime ingredient of all three media, and the private fantasy of course has no limit but the dreamer’s imagination. In any case the listener, reader or dreamer derives some measure of vicarious enjoyment without the risk of actually participating in a gen- uine flesh-and-blood, —_ no-holds- barred orgy.

“Moses and the Daughters of Jethro”, an orgiastric painting by Fiorentino

Given an expense account and the right sophisticated and metropolitan contacts, any professionally-staffed “gang bang” can be staged to order, including sometimes both male and female performers. If the expense account is large enough, the result can be somewhat more than just “a little org and become of Gar- gantuan proportions.

All of the above activities are unmistakably “orgies”, simply be- cause they are so labeled by the participants or observers. The bull- session raconteur states that he is going to talk about an orgy: pose-type magazine advertises that it is running an article about orgies; the day-dreamer sets out to create the mental images which satisfy his concepts of what “orgies” ought to be. Even the professional sex-party of the type sometimes put on at


conventions is touted to the partici- pating “visiting firemen” as being a real, swinging “orgy”.

But let us consider those group activities which were not necessarily labeled or considered -“orgies” by the participants, but which have been assigned that label by histo- rians and other social commentators. We are immediately faced with the question: “When is an orgy not an orgy, and how do you keep track of the old orgy game without a scorecard?” There is also inevitably the parallel problem: “If all real self-respecting serious-type orgies are traditionally conducted in the

nude, are all groups of nudes thereby correctly understood to be “orgies?”

Despite massive publicity to the contrary, the orgy is not and was never confined to the city limits of



“The Fountain of Youth”, by Cranach the Elder, suggests an orgy, though it was not so intended.

Sodom, Gomorrah, Rome, Lesbos, or Hollywood. If we take the word in its traditional semantic meaning of “sexual activity in the presence of others”, then the orgy has been a form of social recreation in many other times and places, As a basis for better understanding of our own attitudes and prejudices we may find it worthwhile to look at the vagaries of humankind in a broader perspec- tive.

Our primitive past gives us a pattern of the kinds of limits which man tends to place on his various sexual activities. Generally speaking, though primitive societies were usual permissive in the selection of mating partners, the actual act of inter- course generally is and was sup- posed to be private.

For most primitives, sex was too fraught with supernatural danger to be undertaken in the presence of others who might bewitch or other- wise harm the participants. Of course, privacy was and is, hard to come by in the primitive world, and in many cases complete privacy is impossible. A social privacy could be maintained by simply ignoring what wasn’t supposed to be seen as long as the participants attempted to con- ceal themselves. In many societies sex is not an activity of the night and shelter, but of the daytime and the remoteness of the bush or jungle. Nonetheless a few people, even to- day, appear not to consider sex a private affair!

The aborigines of Taiwan are said to engage in the sex act in the presence of other adults but not in front of children! Acts of voyeurism with one’s neighbors are not con- sidered particularly unusual or stim- ulating. On the atoll of Truk, where

sex is taken quite casually, ethnog- raphers have reported seeing couples making love while bystand- ers actually gave advice or en- couragement.

Another unusual Trukese practice is for two young women to call on their neighbors and ask them to judge which has the more beautiful sex equipment. In traditional Japan, if we can believe a number of older paintings, any young couple might engage in sex in the presence of others, undisturbed.

With these few exceptions, sex in the primitive past seems to have been generally a private affair. Nor did primitive peoples regularly en- gage in random selection of part- ners. Although the attitude toward a “yes” or “no” may be very per- missive, often the selection of mates was so hedged with supernatural taboos that there were really very few potential partners. For a num- ber of reasons, usually related to their religions, the normal rules of partner-selection might be tempo- rarily removed, for some peoples.

Thus, during the Arrow Renewal ceremony among the Cheyenne Indians of North America, held after a murder had been committed, the virtuous wife of a prominent man might be required to have sexual relations with a medicine-man, In the Amazon jungle, even the taboo of incest is removed in the case of an unruly and delinquent girl who may, in the interests of tribal dis- cipline, be raped, usually by her closest male relatives.

In ancient Polynesia, explorers’ sketchy accounts and old native tra- ditions variously handed down tell us of a semi-religious club of men and women who devoted themselves

to unrestrained sexual activity throughout their lives. In exchange for this life, they foreswore the priv- ileges, the prestige and responsi- bilities of marriage and parenthood.

The Australian Bushmen, despite a low level of material culture, dis- play an extremely complex social structure and elaborate mythology. When food is plentiful, the bushmen hold = “corroboree” —_ ceremonies. Rituals are staged to encourage the continued growth of food-plants and game animals. The dancing at these ceremonies is often suggestive of fertility rites and appears to stimu- late the participants. These may, in the middle of the dance, seck part- ners and withdraw into the shadows to make love. On these occasions, only the closest relatives are avoided and little attention is paid to on- lookers,

The suggestive and athletic dances of Samoa and Tahiti appear to serve as sexual stimulous and it is quite normal for a boy and girl to dance awhile and then repair to a seclud- ed spot to make love.

Periods of ritualized sexual license, however, appear to be far more common in relatively complex farming societies than among simpler peoples. Where existence depends on the continued fertility of fields and herds, religions spring up which emphasize the sexual nature of man.

The early religions of Asia and Europe stressed sexuality as a guar- antee of fertility. Often this resulted in fixing on the sexual organs as symbols of the sacred and generative force of nature, the so-called phallic religions of the Mediterranean world, India and Japan. In Greece, the fountainhead of western civiliza- tion, periods of ritualized sexual

license were the religious norm. Certain cults staged regular orgies of both a homo-and heterosexual na- ture. Some authorities report that entire villages abandoned themselves to random, public and indiscrimi- nant sex adventures as acts of vener- ation to the deities of fertility. These celebrations generally fell in the late winter before the spring farm work began or in the fall, after the har- vest.

In ancient India, scholars devel- oped elaborate systems for sexual performance. The Kama Sutra de- scribes a number of variations which seem impossible except in the imagi- nation. Exquisitely-carved temples depicting the sexual act in every conceivable manner might indicate the presence of group-sex cultism among the peoples of India. We can- not know for certain. It’s likely how- ever that certain Hindu cults did practice orgiastic behavior as a form of yoga and adoration of the gods. The so-called Tantric system of Buddhism is said to have adherents who use orgiastic sex as a means of attaining self-realization.

Ancient Rome borrowed much from Greece’s religion. But reli- giously-oriented sexual license does not seem to have been easily adopted by the originally puritanical Romans. However, in the later phases of Ro- man culture, when sexual standards became exceedingly permissive, the orgy became a social activity, at least for the upper classes.

The murals of Pompeii depict a number of scenes which are orgiastic in nature. Painted at the entrance- ways to luxurious brothels, they were ancient billboards created to entice jaded customers. This aspect of Ro- man life was borrowed directly from Greece where the professional wom- en played an enormous part in social life and often participated in orgies.

The fall of Rome and the rise of Christianity in feudal Europe saw the formal end of religious and social orgies, but did not eradicate the ac- tivity itself. Many “Christian” cele- brations, in fact, were thinly dis- guised pagan fertility festivals. As late as the 16th century, churchmen in England were fulminating against Easter celebrations because of the

Ingres’ “Le Bain Turc” or otherwise “The Turkish Bath” is pure fantasy. On close study, erotic elements vanish.

sexual behavior of the villagers. They were particularly upset about the mass search for the Maypole, which was conducted at night. Ac- cording to the shocked authorities, no young woman ever came out of the forest untouched.

Witchcraft, which plagued (or obsessed) Europe for a period was always linked with orgiastic be- havior. Coveys of witches are re- ported to have engaged in wild sex- ual orgies in the devil’s honor. The Black Mass, part of witchcraft, is also said to have included a cere- mony of sexual relations between all participants.

In the seventeenth century, the orgy became the hobby of the upper classes and to some degree the es- cape of the lower classes. The upper classes of Italy, even the household of the Pope, were notoriously ad- dicted to sexual excesses. Fashion- able clubs, devoted to sexual orgies, and employing prostitutes, but some- times welcoming fashionable ladies, were commonplace in England. In part, these were political in nature; the sexual excesses reflecting a loy- alty to the king. Notable among these clubs was the “Hellfire” and_ its members were just about the Who's Who of that period.

With the rise of Victorianism in the 19th century, the orgy became socially unacceptable and was regu- lated to the red-light districts of the world. Here, “respectable” men with enough money could buy whatever their imaginations conceived, Houses, such as that of the Ever- leigh sisters in Chicago, became world-famous for the exhibitions and other functions held there as always, for a price.

The stifling anti-sexualism of the


Giotto’s “Last Judgment”, part of a fresco, was intended to be illustrative of the culmination of a really wild and early orgy.

Victorian Era made certain that women other than prostitutes would not be attracted to even the most conventional of love-making. The “respectable” and the “fallen” were rigidly segregated. Nonetheless, orgi- astic behavior did not disappear from society. It had simply changed its context.

The gradual decline of Victorian- ism and the weakening of the sexual and social double standard over the past century set the stage for the modern upswing of orgiastic activity

In Europe, the famous fall festi- vals and celebrations similar to our Mardi Gras are notorious in their sexual permissiveness. It is said that no German court will entertain a suit for divorce based on adultery committed during its Faschung festi- vals. That these modern urban cele- brations are descended from the an- cient fertility feasts of pre-Christian Europe only make the practice more understandable.

To those of us raised between the cinematically free-swinging 1920s and the increasingly permissive 1960s, the orgy meant a sort of co- educational pie-eating contest. Oh, there was a little out-of-focus smooching in the corners of the screen and some _ not-too-well- covered dancing girls, but the main point still seemed to be smashing grapes against one’s chin, or gnaw- ing half-cooked pork from a bone.

In actual behavior, orgies might be no more than the local CPA’s wife doing her annual tiddly strip- tease at the country club dance or an alcoholic session of skinny-dip-

ping in the neighbor’s pool on a hot, dark night. Beyond that, the orgy has been just a vague “something” relegated to the pages of books smuggled in from France (always France). Certainly, just a few years ago, orgies were far outside the ex- perience of the average red-blooded. hell-bent-for-the-middle-class-Amer- ican.

Not so today. Perhaps historians of the future will mark the 1960s as the period when multiple and semi- public sex passed Monopoly and ©harades as the number one parlor games, at least of the United States.

Exaggerated? Perhaps, but let’s take a look at what’s happening. Last year, New York police popped in on a party. The kids were sleeping in a spare bedroom, just like any other Saturday night affair attended by young marrieds. But the adults, all eighteen of them, were in the buff, making uninhibited love to each other. The host explained it was a fund-raising get-together. The fund was to finance a migration to an un- named island where free love would be the order of the day!

Lest we write this off as a singular peculiarity of Manhattan, your at- tention is called to a recent tele- vision program in Los Angeles. There, to the confusion of Louis Lomax, the conductor of a contro- versial interview program, an attrac- tive prostitute described being hired by a group of neighbors to serve as a kind of social director for a Satur- day night sex party. And, not too many months ago, a national men’s magazine provided a couple of sug- gestions on how to get an orgy off

the ground without professional help. The article concluded with the prediction that sex between friends can be fun,

A number of writers on the cur- rent scene have made off-the-cuff references to orgies being as com- mon as LSD sessions or Zen lectures. Another magazine published a se- ries of out-of-focus and murky photos which it insisted was another New York orgy, one held every Thursday night, right after the TV “Untouchables.”

Ilfield and Luaher, in their book on American nudism today, quoted one of their informants (an ex- nudist) as saying he didn’t really like wife-swapping. He far preferred, he said, to invite a few friends over for sex. Certain men’s magazines, less reliable perhaps, scarcely miss an issue without an expose of orgies at such places as colleges, resorts, factories, offices, you name it.

Tt would seem then, that at least some orgiastic activity is occurring in America today. And, what is more important, perhaps, there has been no outrageous public outcry con- cerning group sexual activities. It may be that the apparent rise in wife-swapping and the like is an unspoken acceptance factor. But as any nudist should know, the willing- ness to break one set of taboos does not necessarily imply a desire or ability to break another. Thus while some wife-swappers or “swingers” may engage in orgies, it would seem that a number of others do not violate the code of our culture which

decrees sex to be a private affair.

Will collective sexual argosies be- come more of a part of American life in times to come? For an answer we must wait for history to show us in retrospect. In the meantime, psy- chology might give us some hints. Civilization, as pointed out by Freud and others, imposes a great many restrictions on the individual. Com- plex societies constantly impinge on the life of each member.

The sum total of these restrictions creates frustration. Mankind has consistently sought to find relief from these self-imposed hindrances (earning a livelihood, government, manners and morals), sometimes through war or violent competitive sports. Making fun of the accepted and sacred rituals of a society or hysterical outbursts of violence serve

The German painters were also drawn to depiction of orgiastic activity and here is Lucas

to siphon off some of these frustra- tions.

For many people, throwing off the most rigid of restraints, those asso- ciated with sex, serves as a cathartic for both the individual and the society. After a period of non- restraint, the wayward member might return to the harness of standard mores for another season.

Te this theory of orgiastic behavior is correct, perhaps we have a glim- mering of an answer for our own time. Certainly modern civilization with its taxes, mortgages, racial and political tensions, traffic jams and a myriad of rules with a minimum of lasting human relationships, must build frustration to a level as high as any other society in human his- tory.

At the same time, the kind of formalized prostitution which for a time permitted the men of American society to find release from frustra- tion, is disappearing. On the other hand, the sexual nature of women is being increasingly recognized. She has been given full partnership in the business of life. Marriage is now supposed to provide sexual satisfac- tion for both partners. If this is not achieved, then other sexual activities will be considered, if not under- taken.

Our quick tour through the sexual mores of mankind suggests that no society has ever allowed complete sexual license, however. Orgies have not been allowed to run rampant, but indeed, have been surrounded with complex restrictions as formi-

dable as any modern taboos ee

Van Leyden's approach to the everlasting problem of how human beings sometimes behave.

Ke} 1

Nudity on the North Sea

These Danskas have to wear clothes all week, for business and school, but they do find great satisfaction in fooling around the home or their boat while nude. It’s so much simpler and more fun living in that free sort of style, the Danish Jaybird way.

Ships and the sea are in the blood of most Danes, a rugged race. Their free moments are usually spent here aboard the well-kept sloop. Weather permitting, they’re mother- naked but if the chilly winds come up, it is indicated to slip into clothing!


Sees SS

2D St

Youth is demanding its place in the sun, and here in Denmark itS no different. Our elders seem to have muddled up the world, so we try new patterns.


People today find that in our world we have to have outlets. It’s lots of fun to work off steam on a boat, with ‘‘going”’ friends as the crew. Our young people all have to be at their jobs during the week, but they always get out on the water for weekends like this one just like so many young people over here who live anywhere near the ocean.

The English, supposedly a very conservative people, surprise us every now and then by cutting loose from it all. There seems to be a great worldwide move- ment in the direction of per- sonal and group freedom, to live as folks should live, un- inhibited and to some extel

unrestrained. These young Brit- ishers are growing up in their own directions, having little patience with the rules of the past. That the directions are ours too makes it all somewhat more interesting, and help to remind us how alike we all are.


- Nn

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Youth needs to express itself—youth in Europe or England or here in our United States. The expression takes many forms, but they are our forms and not those of

our ancestors. We are not revolting from, we are revolting toward. We aren't sure of all the directions, as yet.



These Jaybirds are vitally interested

in distant places and in all the many Philosophies of the Orient and Pacifica. So why not recreate the atmosphere and background at home?


Experiments with new makeup for a blonde, with costumes, with mood music and with the dance were the order of the day.

Our Jaybirds have an interest in Zen—a form of Buddhism.

A free, spontaneous reaction to situation

is part of this fresh approach they have learned from Zen and from books on Dancing in the Orient that

deep meditation can come while engaged in strenuous exercise! Body and mind can and should function as an integral unit, to get

the optimum reactions. Besides, it’s all an outlet for gay spirits.


It might be possible to get a better understanding

of other peoples, such as Orientals or Polynesians,

by trying to put ourselves in the right mood, with

the costumes and the dances and the music. Why not? We have to think like other people to relate to them!

*y 3 $ g 3 i) & 3 4 3 = 3 5 z g a

Two of Modigliai




Nobody in our century painted the feminine nude like Modigliani!

Whatever is said by biographers, by friends and acquaintances like Jacques Lipchitz or Claude Roy or even by his own natural daughter Jeanne, whose “Modigliani Sans Legende” (Grunde, Paris, 1958) is still not as yet available in any Eng- lish edition or translation, it remains also true that “Modi” the brilliant if erratic and self-tortured genius left behind him a whole treasure- house of magnificent paintings particularly paintings of the feminine nude on which his reputation is firmly based, And it is by his works, and not by his life, that any creative artist should be judged.

Most of the best works of Modi- gliani’s, and particularly his best nude paintings, are today in Buro- pean museums or in private collec- tions, and a large number of them not available to the public nor even to the serious collector of reproduc- tions in the form of photographic copies.

Luckily for us Americans, we do have a few of the major works of this most fascinating and exciting modern artist over on this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, in the “Nu Couche” (known now as “The Great

Nude” and with some reason, too!) we may have right here, in the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, the artist’s. masterpiece. It is truly a warm and lovely thing, the body limned with delicate, light flesh tones against a pattern of subdued but passionate variations of ochre and cadmium and rose. She lies asleep, one rounded arm thrown back upon the pillow, one extended and bent back against the cheek. The breasts are full and firm and young, the torso is delicately stretched long, to sweep out in the full, girlishly- feminine curves of the hip. It has both essential purity and essential eroticism in every line, in every brush stroke.

Here is no classic Venus, no Eve, She has a timeless beauty about her, but it is the beauty of a real woman, who has loved and been a lover. In this painting, as certain critics have pointed out, the artist has found a way of saying everything he had to say about Women, in his own metier. Its appeal, on the surface at least, is to the intellectual rather than to the vulgar and everyday mind; there is nothing for the yokel to lear at, or to drool at, in this admittedly erotic painting of a naked woman.

There is a great deal of this same



quality in almost all of Modigliani’s nudes. The warm sensitiveness of the artist is visible to the discerning eye also in the painting simply entitled “Nude, 1917” another sleeping brunette in the Solomon K. Gug- genheim Museum, New York. More stylized than “The Great Nude” (at least in representation of the model face) it has something of the same quality. She is sleeping waiting to be awakened by a lover. None other shall awaken her, even tho’ the lover be hers but for the night!

We have (occasionally) on public display in America, also the famous “Seated Nude” (circa 1918) which is in the Black Collection, in Chic- ago. Here we have another brunette (Modigiliani’s tastes seem to run strongly in that direction, and he painted what he loved) whose al- most excessively-female body is portrayed with love and tenderness, every zaftig ounce of it. Again the artist has subtly stylized the face, in line with his very individualistic ap- proach to all portraiture. And it must be remembered that Modigliani was for some years almost entirely a portrait artist, and a very successful one too, in spite of or perhaps be- cause of his stylistic renditions. Modigliani (like Renoir and many other great creative painters) only approached the feminine nude when he felt in his heart that he was ready for this supreme test.

Apart from the above, there is little of Modigliani’s greater work on this side of the ocean. We might mention in passing “The Little Milkmaid” (1918) now in the col- lection of Mr. and Mrs. George Friedland, New York, which is the loving portrait of a round and rosy young girl, faintly reminiscent of Renoir in its approach, wearing a brief chemise around her middle and with the right hand half-concealing one young breast. It is, and yet is not a nude! For a time the artist amused himself by doing demi-nudes witness his lovely “Elvira”, also the study of a young girl (for once with a good tan on her body), which is in the collection of Professor Wal- ter Hadrown, in Bern.

“Nude” (1912) by Modigliani. He was never a man for fancy titles!

There are also, here in America, a few of the artist’s “Caryatids” either sculpture or drawings or per- haps cartoons for projected sculp- tures, one is in the Modern Museum, and the Norton Gallery and Art School in Palm Beach has another; while they are interesting to any serious student of the artist’s work, they are both stylized and expres- sionistic,: typical of Modigliani’s “false start” with sculpture.

His was a short life, both crea- tively and chronologically. While he was born in Leghorn, Italy, and grew up, studied and even had some exhibitions of juvenalia in his native country, his life really began early in the year 1906, when he was ir- resistibly drawn to Paris, and took up lodgings in the Rue Calaincourt, in Montmartre.

It was generally understood by his friends and confreres (who accepted

him at once), though they mistook him for a playboy and always labored under the delusion that he had wealthy parents in Italy! The young man himself, of handsome and aristocratic face and bearing, did nothing to disillusion them; he lived, drank, and caroused like a nobleman or what was considered a nobleman in that Montmartre world of the early years of this cen- tury.

He was accepted (in 1907) as a member of the Societe des Inde- pendants, a radically-explorative group of young painters having some of their roots in Expressionism, but profoundly influenced by Cubism and by primitive African art, then a new discovery in the Parisian art world. There are elements of many sources in Modigliani’s earlier work, most particularly in his sculpture. But it was in portraiture first just

Photographers today strive for “the Modigliani effect”,

heads of his friends and associates and prominent dignitaries, and later on portraits in the nude, that Am- adeo Modigliani was to come into his own.

Tt was with a furious and almost frightening enthusiasm that the young artist threw himself into the night-world of Paris, spending his nights in drinking, in brawling, in experimenting with absinthe and at last with hashish (a cake made from cannabis indica, with basically the same formula as marijuana but far more deadly). He was a “wild youth.”

In spite of the almost immediate acceptance of his work by the critics, and the acquiring of a loyal patron (Dr. Paul Alexandre, who still has one of the finest collections of Modi- gliani paintings in the world) the young artist was always broke, al- most in trouble, and almost always in love. It was as if somehow he knew that his time would be short, and that he must live up a whole lifetime in weeks and months,

Yet he was artist first and fore- most, as French critic Claude Roy says, in his text for the splendid Skira “Taste of Our Time” an

art-book series featuring Modigliani:

“Let us imagine a biographer who, wishing to trace the career of Modi- gliani, had only his works to go on: who had to infer the artist’s life story solely from internal evidence sup- plied by paintings, sculptures and drawings; who knew nothing what- ever of the facts; and who had to deduce the course of Modigliani’s life from its successive fruits and nothing else.

“For example, on studying the very earliest pictures he would dis- cover in them French, distinctively Parisian influences. Not knowing the young artist’s nationality and birth- place, he would naturally assume that Modigliani was a native of the Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec and Cez- anne, when the recent revelation of African statuary and the first Fauvre and Cubist pictures were providing younger, forward-looking artists with new, wildly-exciting models and stimulating them to orgies of orig- inality ...

“Then he would watch the painter gradually acquiring _ self-control, finding himself, working out a per- sonal style and attaining a harmony, a spacious peace, of which there had

been no promise in the extrava- gances of his hectic youth. Thus our detached observer could easily convince himself that, as time went by, Amadeo Modigliani settled down to an ever calmer, more contempla- tive way of life; that the leaping fires of early youth had burnt them- selves out and given place to a tran- quil radiance. After a stormy debut, he had effected, stage by stage, a gradual reconciliation with the crea- tive turmoils of his personality, with other men, and with the entire scheme of things . . .”

As we know, the converse was true. While the last years of the painter’s life were marked in , his work by a sort of lofty and loving contemplation, he attained nothing of this in his private life, either in his relationships with his mistresses, his associates, or his patrons. And he was determined to be at all times his own worst enemy!

He painted beauty, with a skill that few men of his generation could even aim at. And he lived everything that was ugly and sordid, getting little joy from the euphoria of alcohol and drugs. In his love-life he was also always unhappy. His love


affair with the English poetess Beatrice Hastings was a bitter and stormy one; his best portrait of her (circa 1915, now in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Ritter, Scars- dale, New York) shows a pink- cheeked, purse-lipped beauty with the long, thin neck of a giraffe, very formally dressed. They had been lovers for a whole year when the picture was painted, and perhaps the artist’s ennui with the English beauty was beginning to show!

Shortly thereafter he was to meet the most important woman of his life, the one and only Jeanne He- buterne. She was an art student, and left behind a few fair studies of Paris streets and backyards, a tall and thinnish brunette with dark brown- red hair and lovely hands and arms with the wide blue eyes of a child. He painted her again and again though never in the nude (as far as

we know, at least) and never tired of her as a model, though at times he tired of her as mistress, treating her most abominably.

From Claude Roy’s biography we read: “Andre Salmon tells of the last occasion when he saw the two young lovers. Amadeo was in a furious temper with Jeanne. He was dragging her along by an arm, grip- ping her frail wrist, tugging at one or the other of her two long braids of hair, and only letting go of her a moment to send her crashing into the iron railings of the Luxembourg. He was like a madman, crazy with rage, with savage hatred.”

Yet it was also Modigliani who wrote, on the margin of a sketch he had made of Jeanne, the words of Dante:

“My lady looks so gentle and so pure

When yielding salutation by the


That the tongue trembles and has

naught to say,

And the eyes, which fain would

see, may not endure.”

In November, 1918, Jeanne He- buterne bore the artist a daughter, also christened Jeanne, about whom the self-tortured man seems to have cared little though accident had it that she became his literary and artistic executor and custodian of his papers a great aid to her, no doubt, in her effort to compile a definitive biography and listing of all his works.

The entire creative life of Amadeo Modigliani was comprised within fifteen years, and most of it within the last ten, His greatest and per- haps his sole joy was in feverish production of one nude after the other of the famous “Nude on a Cushion” (Collection —_ Mattioli, Milan) and of “Reclining Nude with Blue Cushion”, of “Elvira” (collec- tion of Professor W. Hadorn, Bern) as well as “Nu Assis aux Bras Leves”, a drawing now in_ the Modern Museum of Arts, New York, which has been called one of the very finest things of its kind done in this or for that matter in any century.

But the end was near. The artist had had pleurisy at the age of nine, typhoid fever at fourteen, tuber- culosis at seventeen a disease which was to be with him, off and on, for the remainder of his life and to triumph over him at the end. In January of 1920 Amadeo died of tuberculosis, bled white by starva- tion, drink and drugs, in the Hospital de Charite, an almshouse, in Paris, at the untimely age of 36.

His place in the art world was secure, his work was finished. After him were to come a whole generation of lesser men on both sides of the Atlantic who were to be tremendous- ly influenced by the techniques he had developed; there are those who trace the entire “sickness” of modern art, at least relating to the nude, to this one man. It was possible for him, at least, to stylize the female nude without divesting her of reality,

It was not by accident that the photographer captured this typical Modigliani position.

or allurement, or of basic femininity. His followers have not been as fortu- nate.

Amadeo Modigliani died in a char- ity ward January 25th, 1920. His brother in Milan wired friends “Bury him like a prince!” but included no remittance. Modigliani was buried as a pauper, and at the brief cere- mony in the drizzling r: in Paris, Jeanne prominent by her absence. There

those ‘among the painter's

Is who remarked upon. this;

did not know