Jeanne & Modigliani: Paris in the dark
“A Captivating Darkness” – ComicsVerse
“[Van der Straten] does well, with subtle storytelling and moody artwork” – Pixel Pop Network
Achieving little recognition in his own lifetime, Amedeo Modigliani, a young expressionist artist in Paris, went on to become highly influential after his untimely death in 1920. Jeanne Hebuterne was his last companion, his ever-faithful supporter. Although a talented artist in her own right, when their romance begins Jeanne is quickly pulled into the abyss of Modigliani’s destructive ego, to tragic ends.
Written about women by a woman, to reclaim the narrative through comic art. This is a work about women in comics. A mature period drama book, full of beautiful black-and-white drawings, best read by adults.
Select your format:
Women in Comics: Jeanne Hebuterne
Nadine Van der Straeten
History, Slice of Life
Samer Yahyawi –
Black Panel Press has done it again with Jeanne & Modigliani: Paris in the dark. We see two artists, Jeanne and Modigliani, that love each other but in different ways. Jeanne playing the muse, portrays a woman who has so much potential but can’t seem to find her footing with her current relationship with Modigiani. I wish more graphic novels and publishers took a nontraditional route of storytelling and take more risks as this graphic novel does. If you had to only read one title from Black Panel Press this is the one! You may want to stop at times because what you’re reading and witnessing is so excruciating and wonderfully sad but the art and the end result will provide you with closure that you’ll be satisfied with. Congrats to the whole team in bringing this historical story to life not just on the page but in the hearts and minds of the reader.
Jerald Pope –
This 128-page, black and white graphic novel follows the love affair of the modernist artist Amedeo Modigliani and Jeanne Hebuterne, a young artist who sacrificed her career, and ultimately her life, for him. It’s the sort of story that still draws readers to the trope of the artist’s so romantic, yet oh-so-tragic, life. Think of Modigliani as a more functional, sexier Van Gogh. This finely-drawn book immerses us in the artist’s demimonde of Paris in the early 20th century: the cold garret studios; the constant nose-thumbing at the bourgeoisie; the wild parties with poetry, wine, sex and politics; and, paramount always, art.
Jeanne, a young artist still living with her parents, is our narrator. She is thrilled and honored to be the muse of such a famous artist and accepts that, of course, his work is more important than hers. He concurs, even though he occasionally chides her for neglecting her practice and, by the way, smothering him. This book seems to demonstrate that real, flesh and blood women were harder to deal with than the beautiful, dangerous angels that the artists, poets, and intellectuals of this era idolized. Her work took on a derivative similarity to Modigliani’s the longer they lived together. Whether she would have achieved a comparable fame or pursued her own style is unknowable.
Nadine Argott –
Modigliani is a Parisian artist that many afficiandos of French painting- or any kind at that matter- know the name of and more likely than not are intimately acquainted with his work as well. Modigliani and his art is of course heavily featured in this beautifully illustrated story, but what makes this book special is that it takes a unique lens of not only Modigliani, but of Paris, the European art scene of the time, and of a fascinating young woman named Jeanne.
Jeanne and Modigliani is the tumultuous story of a woman entangled in a relationship with the legendary artist, and her experiences with him and through her own life- it is a book written BY a woman ABOUT an extraordinary woman, who’s life independently of her artist lover is interesting in and of itself. Modigliani never achieved fame in his lifetime, as many well-known artists are wont to do, but he was eventually recognized for his talent and cultural influence. Unfortunately, many art historians neglect to study his social connections and relationships, and their effect on his method of art creation.
This novel is a useful introduction of course to Modigliani, but also an engaging, visually exciting work about Jeanne, a real person who’s relationship to Modigliani up until his death was remarkable and impactful.
Visually, the illustration and design in this book is fantastic, and has a classic noir feel, but set in Paris and slightly less grimy. The visual commentary is exciting, and the other characters are also well-constructed and fleshed out. This book greatly deserves a read.
Melissa Anderson –
I recieved a copy of Jeanne & Modigliani from Black Panel Press in exchange for an honest review.
Paris in 20’s is an era I’ve always been fascinated by. The life of the artists and writers who made it their home, I find intriguing. So, of course I jumped at the chance to review a graphic novel set around the 20’s Paris art scene.
This graphic novel is a story about Jeanne Hebuterne, famously known as Modigliani’s lover and subject of his art. Jeanne, though, was an artist in her own right. Often overshadowed by her partner.
This is a story of love and madness. Disease and despair. A beautifully told tragic tale of two artists who would live and die for each other, while causing each other maddening distress. The artwork is gorgeous. It displays the emotions the story is trying to portray so perfectly. The madness of Modigliani and the conflicted despair of Hebuterne. A beautiful and haunting graphic novel.
D. Siller –
If you’ve ever wandered the galleries of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, or the Tate in London, or the Centre Pompidou in Paris, you’ve no doubt seen the work of Amedeo Modigliani. You might even be familiar with his biography. And that would be an easy entrée into this book. But the book isn’t only about him.
The story of Jeannette Hébuterne, including her heartbreaking end, is inextricably intertwined with that of the famed artist. And in this gorgeous graphic novel we see that story from her point of view. From the early moments of Jeanne’s first meeting with the painter, a student and artist in her own right, until the end, we’re party to her excitement and joy, her awe and support, her frustration and despair. Along the way, we see their discussions of art; we witness them battle their demons of addiction and illness; we dance and celebrate their victories.
The book opens with the ending—a framing device that leaves no doubt that the pages to follow will ultimately leave us with a pit in the stomach. Hauntingly beautiful, the metaphors fly from the page, the text sparse in the opening sequence. The black-and-white art of this graphic novel is far from the warm colors of Modi’s painting (Modi being a nickname for Modigliani used throughout the novel), but its energy and precision draw your eye to the details of every panel and page. The images are intimate and vibrant; the light and shadow tell this story, evoke the moods of the bars and bedrooms, capture the passions and pains of Jeanne and her lover. You’ll want to spend time with every page, hanging on the words, then sinking your teeth into the images. The art is stunning, and when it comes time for Nadine van der Straeten to illustrate the actual artwork of Jeanne and Modi, she moves deftly into their respective styles, weaving in and out of their images and the graphic novel’s own art. If I might sum up the experience of reading and absorbing the pages of this book, I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say there were moments when I felt I was watching an old black-and-white film.
The novel itself is divided into seven chapters, an epigraph setting the mood for each. The cast of characters is vast, the voices myriad, and we meet them all through our intermediary, Jeanne. If you’re at all familiar with the Paris art & literary scene at the beginning of the 20th century, you know that everyone ran in each other’s circles. Poets like Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars knew painters like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani. The French capital was a melting pot of creativity, with artists coming from all over the world to live and work. You don’t need to have previous knowledge of these artists to enjoy or understand their appearance in the story. In fact, one thing I took away from this graphic novel was a list of new artists and writers I’m excited to discover.
Another texture added to the narrative is the use of quotes from writers and singers popular at the time. Bits of poems by Baudelaire, protest songs, drinking songs all add to the atmosphere of the story. If you worry about recognizing these quotes, do not. Unobtrusive notes keep you informed and consulting them doesn’t take away from the reading experience. Author’s notes, a sketchbook and a bibliography feed your curiosity at the close of the book.
“Jeanne & Modigliani Paris in the Dark” is a trip back in time, and like all good historical novels, immerses us in the time period. The added charm is that we see the story of Jeannette Hébuterne and her lover in World War I-era Paris unfold before our very eyes.
If you’re interested in Jeanne Hébuterne and how a muse and model influenced one of Modernism’s great artists, you should pick up this graphic novel.
If you’re interested in Modigliani or 20th Century art in general, you should pick up this graphic novel.
If you’re interested in tragic love stories, you should pick up this graphic novel.
If you’re interested in a moment in the history of Paris, you should, well, you know.
If you’re interested in black-and-white art, you…
You know what, just pick up this graphic novel!
Amazon Customer –
Really nice quality hardcover book. The art is so detailed really pulls you into the world of the story. The story flowed so well kept me turning from page to page. I haven’t read a graphic novel in a while but reading this reminded me of how visual art can add depth to a story
I Saul –
Having been sent this interesting graphic novel, I was intrigued by the story of Jeanne Modiglaini and her relationship with her partner then eventual husband. The art is beautiful especially showing the eventual obsession and madness that Jeanne suffered due to Modigliani’s abuse towards her and alcohol. There are some stunning moments such as Jeanne’s struggle to draw a male model because he does not have the ‘right physique’ and her teacher says “Do not draw your prejudices but with your eyes”. However I felt that the constant repetition of Charles Baudelaire quotes gave the impression that the writer was struggling with what the characters should say or what emotions they were try to convey at certain pivotal moments and in the end was quite tiresome as I am sure there were other poets to quote particularly in that artistic period of Parisian life. But overall, the story was fluid, the art was beautiful and intricate and was a good read.
Amazon Customer –
I am a big fan of modern art, but I never knew very much about Modigliani. He was that dark horse artist, just becoming popular at the end of his career. I knew he was terrible to his main model, Jeanne, and that they both died very tragically.
I read this graphic novel in one sitting. The very beginning sets the mood, and though it’s not completely clear what’s happening, it doesn’t take long to realize this is going to be a sad story.
Which shouldn’t prevent you from reading it. The graphics are perfect, and I knew enough of the story going in…I just didn’t know the whole story. Granted, the story may not be 100% accurate, but I’m willing to bet it’s very close to accurate. And the love story is precisely what you would expect: sweet, torturous, and tragic.
Jeanne Hebuterne, Modigliani’s model, muse, and almost-wife, was an artist herself, and her life with Modigliani is so much more understandable in graphic novel form than just read out of an art history book. It was a terrible, dysfunctional love affair, but you feel for both the artist and his muse as you see their relationship bloom, deepen, and then wobble violently to its inevitable end. It’s almost like Sophie’s Choice, only with an alcoholic artist and a naive, enabling model.
After I finished the graphic novel, I wanted to read it again, in case I missed anything. It was such a captivating retelling of two lives that ended much too soon. I recommend it highly. (There are some nude drawings, not exceptionally graphic, and certainly in keeping with the content, in case that matters.) I know this story will stay with me for a long time.
If you are looking for a simple, straightforward retelling of historical events, this graphic novel might not be for you. However, if you’re looking for a unique experience, the atmosphere created by this book simply cannot be beat. The story of Jeanne and Modigliani is depicted in a raw and honest light, but with the lovely addition of poetry and song lyrics to help move their sprawling narrative along. I really adore that this book focuses more on Jeanne, as she is honestly the more interesting character of the two and her role is often overlooked. This is definitely not for everyone, but if you have an interest in history or fine arts of any kind, you will definitely get something out of this.
*I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review*