Monday, August 11, 2014

Dan Guerrero / Blog 02 / Chaim Soutine

Chaim Soutine
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943) was an expressionist painter who was born to Jewish parents in Minsk, Russia and moved to Paris when he was 20 years old. There he met other Jewish artists, namely, Marc Chagall and Amadeo Modigliani who became his close friends. While in Paris and with the Louvre at his doorstep he was able to admire the work of great artists of the past such as Gustave Courbet and more notably Rembrandt whose paintings of sides of beef would make an impression on Soutine and inform some of his best known work. Soutine painted many subjects from flowers and landscapes to portraits, all in his own style of line, aggressive brushwork and bright colors, but his paintings of sides of beef stand out. Supposedly the artist would hang a carcass of beef in his apartment and paint from life, much to the dismay of his neighbors, and would keep the flesh looking fresh by pouring blood over it. Another painting from this period is Flayed Rabbit from 1924. Keeping with his theme of viscerally painted flesh the artist portrays a skinless rabbit with legs splayed and an eviscerated torso laying on a white cloth. The cloth rests on a wooden cutting board and beyond the board is a darkly painted nondescript background that adds to the somber mood as well as everything being slightly tilted and just off center. The picture plane is very shallow with the rabbit being pushed right to the fore and in the viewers face. It’s hard not to draw a parallel to a crucifixion scene or even The Flaying of Sisamnes by Gerard David as there is a both a psychological and religious feel to this painting as the rabbit is sacrificed for art or sustenance.

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