Chaïm Soutine (January 13, 1893 – August 9, 1943) was a Jewish painter from what is now Belarus. Soutine made a major contribution to the expressionist movement while living in Paris.
Inspired by classic painting in the European tradition, exemplified by the works of Rembrandt, Chardin and Courbet Soutine developed an individual style more concerned with shape, color, and texture over representation, which served as a bridge between more traditional approaches and the developing form of Abstract Expressionism.
Soutine was born in Smilavichy near Minsk, (modern day) Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire). He was the tenth of eleven children. From 1910–1913 he studied in Vilnius at the Vilna Academy of Fine Arts. In 1913, with his friends Pinchus Kremegne (1890–1981), and Michel Kikoine (1892–1968), he emigrated to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Fernand Cormon. 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 where he became friends with Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920). Modigliani painted Soutine's portrait several times, most famously in 1917, on a door of an apartment belonging to Léopold Zborowski (1889–1932), who was their art dealer. Zborowski supported Soutine through World War I, taking the struggling artist with him to Nice to escape the German bombing of Paris.
After the war Paul Guillaume, a highly influential art dealer, began to champion Soutine's work. In 1923, in a showing arranged by Guillaume, the prominent American collector Albert C. Barnes (1872–1951), bought 60 of Soutine's paintings, on the spot. Soutine, who had been virtually penniless in 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, nearly 200 miles away.
Soutine once horrified his neighbours by keeping an animal carcass in his studio so that he could paint it (Carcass of Beef). The stench drove them to send for the police, whom Soutine promptly lectured on the relative importance of art over hygiene. Soutine painted 10 works in this series, which have since became his most iconic. His carcass paintings were inspired by Rembrandt's still life of the same subject, which he discovered while studying the Old Masters in the Louvre. In February 2006, the oil painting of this series 'Le Boeuf Écorché' (1924) sold for a record £7.8 million ($13.8 million) to an anonymous buyer at a Christies auction held in London - after it was estimated to fetch £4.8 million.
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