Chaïm
Soutine

9.2.24 - 14.7.24

Explosions of colour. Flaming brush strokes. Dizzying perspectives. Paintings that vibrate between merciless distortion and heartfelt sensitivity. Louisiana presents the first ever exhibition in Northern Europe with Chaïm Soutine, one of The School of Paris's leading and most distinctive expressionists.

The exhibition is a cooperation between the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, the Kunstmuseum Bern and Louisiana. With generous support from Aage and Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond

The painter Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) is considered one of the leading expressionists of the so-called School of Paris – a central figure in classical modernism, who masterfully captures his time, around and between the two world wars, with an intense, disturbing and torn imagery.

Reviews

The New York Times

The exhibit offers an overwhelming wealth of genius, the sum of five decades’ work. It is the first major retrospective of the artist in over a decade anywhere in the world.

Frankfurter Allgemeine

This exhibition clearly shows that Chaïm Soutine paved the way for modern painting.

Let's Talk About Art

This is one of the greatest painterly experiences you will ever have.

Köllner Stadt-Anzeige

Here you can hardly believe your own eyes - Soutine is the last, modern classic we have been waiting to rediscover.

Berlingske

The painters' painter is wilder than most of his peers. The large and perfect show at Louisiana will blow your senses. Go see at Louisiana - you will not regret it.

Politiken

Soutine is just one of af kind and could paint like no one else.

Dagens Nyheter

No one can watch a painting of Soutine unmoved. He was obsessed with color and never saw his work as finished.

Artistic guiding star

At the same time, Soutine stands as one of the significant sources of inspiration for abstract expressionism and thereby for a number of the most influential artists of the later 20th century. Just as his name and work are mentioned again and again when contemporary artists are asked to point to their artistic role models. In this film seven artists talk about their relation to Soutine.

That is why it may seem so surprising that until now there does not seem to have been much attention about Soutine in these parts of the world. Not least when compared to his contemporaries and far better-known artist colleagues such as Amedeo Modigliani and Marc Chagall.

With this first ever Soutine exhibition in Northern Europe, Louisiana now makes it possible to discover his unique univers and works. Around 70 paintings will be presented here – on loan from museums and private collectors in Europe, Israel and USA – which provide a closer look into all aspects of his production.

Here are vivid portraits of ordinary people who find themselves on the fringes of or at the bottom of society, just as Soutine himself did for most of his life. Here are wonderfully swaying and brightly coloured landscapes. And here are mysterious still lifes, often dramatic and macabre featuring butchered animals.

Restless and mysterious

Self-Portrait, ca. 1918. The Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation on loan since 1976 to the Princeton University Art Museum

Chaïm Soutine grows up in extreme poverty in a Jewish Orthodox family in what today is known as Belarus. Already from an early age he is aware that he wants to be an artist and, despite great concerns of his parents, is allowed to attend drawing lessons in Minsk.

Here, as a very young man, he paints a portrait of a man, which goes against the orthodox canon, and Soutine is assaulted and badly mistreated by the man's sons. Soutine's parents manage to receive compensation for the assault, and with this Soutine is able to travel to Vilnius, the capital and largest city of Lithuania, and enrolls in the city's art school.

In 1913 Soutine moves to Paris, which at the time was the capital of the European avant-garde and a meeting point for many voluntarily and involuntarily exiled artists – especially from Eastern Europe.

The first many years in Paris are characterized by hunger and poverty, but in 1922-1923 Soutine achieves a sudden and completely unexpected form of recognition, when the American collector Albert C. Barnes acquires no less than 52 of his works. Although this leads to an improvement in Soutine’s financial circumstances, it does little to change his restless and shy nature – he constantly changes lodgings, has few close relationships, speaks poor French and is described as odd.

Overall there is not much known about the artist as a person. He leaves behind quite a few drawings and sketches and no notes, keeps no diary and only writes a few individual cards and letters. As stateless and Jewish, his reality becomes extremely uncertain when the Germans occupy Paris. He lives his final years more or less in hiding and on the run, sometimes having to seek shelter and sleep in the woods, and when he finally ventures back to Paris in 1943 to undergo surgery for a bleeding stomach ulcer, it is too late.

all his own

As a painter, Chaïm Soutine went his own way, and while many of his contemporaries were preoccupied with avant-garde Cubism, Dadaism and Fauvism, he remained relatively unimpressed by these ramifications of Modernism, cultivating instead his own distinctive, highly intense painting and unique expression.

The artistically innovative potential of Soutine’s work has had an influence well into the 20th century and was a decisive source of inspiration for the abstract expressionism and School of London painters. This applies to names such as Francis Bacon, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and later artists such as Georg Baselitz, Alice Neel and Marlene Dumas. Contemporary artists such as Dana Schutz, Nicole Eisenman and Cecily Brown also clearly draw on the legacy of Soutine.