Chaim Soutine: Shape and Colour
Chaim Soutine was born 1893/94: the date is the subject of debate. He was born in the town of Smilovichi, near Minsk, Russia. After studying art in Vilnius, Lithuania, he moved to Paris in 1913 to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
An art dealer gave him the opportunity him to paint and live for in southern Franc. His unique style, influenced by Expressionism, is marked by thick impasto, furious brushwork, strict composition, and dark psychological imagery and subject matter. His paintings are of choirboys, page boys, poultry and beef carcasses.
Inspired by classic painting in the European tradition, exemplified by the works of Rembrandt, and Courbet Chaim Soutine developed an unique style focused on with shape, color, and texture instead of representation. This approach served as a bridge between more traditional approaches and the developing form of Abstract Expressionism at that time.
Chaim and his artist friends lived at La Ruche, a place for artists in Montparnasse. He became friends with Amedeo Modigliani. Modigliani painted Soutine's portrait several times, most famously in 1917. The painting was done on a door of an apartment belonging to Léopold Zborowski, who was their art dealer. Zborowski supported Soutine through World War I. They left Paris during the German bombing and went to Nice.
After the war, Paul Guillaume, a well known art dealer, began to promote Soutine's work. In 1923, in a showing arranged by Guillaume, the prominent American collector Dr. Albert Barnes bought 100 of Soutine's paintings. Soutine, who had been virtually penniless during his years in Paris, immediately took the money, ran into the street, hailed a Paris taxi, and ordered the driver to take him to Nice, on the French Riviera.
Soutine was prone to violent rages and depression. He destroyed his own creations in fits of rage. Despite his eccentricities, he sold many of his works to a well-known American collector by the name of Dr. Alfred Barnes who helped Soutine's work find an appreciative audience in the United States.
Today, the United States has the biggest and best examples of Soutine’s work, owing largely to Dr. Barnes, who bought those paintings in 1923.
Soutine's most successful exhibition of his paintings was in Paris 1937. After the exhibition of his works in Paris, Paris fell under the Nazi regime. Soutine, like many Jewish people, fled Paris, sleeping outdoors, living in fear and on the run. Two weeks before the French liberation on August 8, 1944, he died due to complications from surgery.