Chaïm Soutine

(1893—1943) French painter, born in Lithuania

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Russian-born expressionist painter associated with the School of Paris.

The tenth child of a Jewish tailor, Soutine spent his childhood in poverty in a ghetto in Minsk, Lithuania. He left home to study at the École des Beaux-Arts at Vilna and in 1913 travelled to Paris, where he lived a bohemian existence among a group of painters and poets that included Chagall, Lipchitz, and Léger. He formed a close friendship with Modigliani, whose death in 1920 devastated him. Between 1919 and 1922 Soutine lived mainly in Céret, where he painted over two hundred canvases. Mainly landscapes, they were executed in thick paint with apparently feverish intensity. During the 1920s Soutine also produced pictures of grotesque figures with twisted faces and deformed bodies, for example Woman in Red (1924–25). The subjects, close-up and usually full-faced studies, were most often women or uniformed young boys, such as choir boys and page boys.

After 1923, following a successful exhibition, Soutine acquired some recognition and financial stability. From 1925 he increasingly painted still lifes, including plucked fowl and flayed carcasses, using a violence of colour and brushstroke that reflected his restless unstable temperament. When France was invaded in 1940, he refused to emigrate to the USA and went to live in Touraine, where he continued to paint often tempestuous landscapes until his death.

Subjects: Art.

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