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Chaïm Soutine

Chaïm Soutine
Smilovitchi (actuelle Biélorussie)
Paris (France)

Born in Smilovitchy, in the province of Minsk (now Belarus), emigrated to France, Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) is one of the representatives of the School of Paris. He arrived in the French capital in 1912, and moved into La Ruche for a while, then went to the Cité Falguière where he met Modigliani (1884-1920) through the sculptor Lipchitz (1891-1973). He also travelled to the south of France, bringing back turbulent landscapes (Les maisons [Houses], Paysage [Landscape], Arbre couché [Leaning Tree], Le village [The Village]). Soutine’s style was similar to Expressionism and varied little over time, but one of his characteristics was to work in series. He represented in turn gladioli, game, poultry, hotel staff and choirboys. The characters he portrays are melancholic, stereotyped to the point of caricature, their bodies subjected to spectacular distortions and wearing clothes of brightly contrasting colours (La fiancée [The Fiancée], Portrait d’homme [Portrait of a Man], Le petit pâtissier [The Little Pastry Cook], La jeune anglaise [The Young English Girl], Enfant de chœur [Choirboy], Le garçon d’étage [The Room Service Waiter], Garçon d’honneur [Best Man]). For his still lifes, he liked to depict animals that had been killed (Le poulet plumé [Plucked Chicken], Le lapin [Rabbit], Le dindon [The Turkey], Dindon et tomates [Turkey and Tomatoes], Nature morte au faisan [Still Life with a Pheasant]) or flayed carcasses, following Rembrandt’s example (Bœuf et tête de veau [Side of Beef and Calf’s Head], La table [The Table]). The art dealer Paul Guillaume was one of the first to take an interest Soutine’s painting. It was through him that the American collector Barnes (1872-1951) discovered Soutine, bringing him international recognition. Thanks to Paul Guillaume’s early enthusiasm for the artist, the Orangerie today houses the largest collection of Soutine‘s paintings in Europe.