Chaim Soutine

Chaim Soutine (1894 - August 8, 1944) was an expressionist painter.

Born in Smilovichi, Belarus, he immigrated to Paris in 1911 with his friends Pinchus Kremegne and Michel Kikoine where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He soon developed a highly personal vision and painting technique.

For a time, he and his friends lived at La Ruche, a residence for struggling artists in Montparnasse. In 1923, the great American collector Paul Barnes visited his studios and immediately bought sixty of Soutine's paintings. Soutine went on to produce landscapes, still-lifes, and portraits which are considered true masterpieces.

Chaïm Soutine once horrified his neighbours by keeping an animal carcass in his studio so that he could paint (Carcass of Beef). The stench drove them to send for the police, whom Soutine promptly lectured on the relative importance of art over hygiene.

In Montparnasse, he became friends with Amedeo Modigliani who painted his portrait in 1917.

Obsessed by form and colour, often depressed and dissatisfied, Soutine destroyed many paintings during bouts of despair and only produced the majority of his works from 1920 to 1929. He seldom showed his works, apart during the important exhibition of Independent Art held in 1937 in Paris where he was at last hailed as a great painter. However, his good times were not to last after the invasion of France by German troops. As a Jew, Soutine had to escape from the French capital and hide in order to avoid arrest by the hands of the Gestapo. He constantly moved from one place to another and was sometimes forced to seek shelter in forests, sleeping outdoors. Suffering from a stomach ulcer and bleeding badly he had to leave his safe hiding place for Paris in order to undergo emergency surgery, which failed to save his life. On August 8, 1944, just two weeks before the French capital was freed by Allied forces, Chaim Soutine died of a perforated ulcer.

Soutine was interred in Cimetiere de Montparnasse, Paris, France. After his death his vivid colors and passionate handling of paint gained him recognition as one of the foremost Expressionist painters.

A few of his paintings:

  • Ceret Landscape - (c.1919)
  • Pastry Cook - (1922), Louvre, Paris;
  • Street of Cagnes-sur-Mer - (c.1923-1924)
  • Carcass of Beef - (c.1925), Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York;
  • Sinister Street - (c.1921), Kunstmuseum, Lucerne, Switzerland.
  • Winding Road - (c.1939)
  • Large Poplars at Civery or After the Storm - (c.1939)

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