Born – Smilovitch, Lithuania 1893
Died – Paris, France 1943
Chaim Soutine came to Paris in 1913 after studying at Vilno. Alongside other expatriate painters, Chagall and Modigliani, who became his friend, he injected a different mood into the art of the School of Paris. Soutine’s Expressionist work is akin to the bravura of the Fauves, led by Matisse and the German Expressionism of Nolde. However, he admired the old, rather than the modern, masters. More emotional than intellectual, Soutine’s art was a passionate expression of his sincere response to life as he saw it. Intense and gruesome, fervently wrought through lurid colour and wild, convulsive brush marks of impasto; Flayed Ox is typical of Soutine’s painting. It was inspired by Rembrandt’s treatment of the same subject, worked from life. The artist was somewhat of a recluse, whose driving passion was the act of creativity. Contemporary accounts of him describe his uncleanliness and lack of discipline. The dead birds and fleshy carcasses he loved to recreate in oils often rotted in his studio, much to his neighbour’s distress. Although he was reluctant to promote and exhibit his work, the support of his patrons secured the reputation of his art, which proved influential during the 1930s, particularly in America.
- Pageboy at Maxim’s
- Portrait of Modigliani
Text: The A-Z of Art, Nicola Hodge and Libby Anson.