"I've always been crazy about Soutine - all of his paintings," said the Dutch-American abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) in 1977. How much de Kooning's approach was due to the influence of Lithuanian artist Chaim Soutine
(1893-1943) is examined in this exhibition catalogue, in which the two artists are dramatically juxtaposed.
This book accompanies an exhibition organized by the Musee de l'Orangerie, Paris, and The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, dedicated to the affinities between the work of Chaim Soutine and Willem de Kooning. It was Dr Alfred Barnes who had made Soutine's career by buying the bulk of the unknown artist's available work in Paris in 1923. The exhibition and accompanying publication will show how the work of Soutine had a decisive influence on the development of de Kooning's art, especially following Soutine's posthumous retrospective held at The Museum of Modern Art in 1950.
The expressive force of Soutine's painting, coupled with his image as an 'accursed' (maudit) artist struggling with the vicissitudes and excesses of bohemian life in Paris during the interwar years, exerted a particular influence on a new generation of post-war painters in the United States. In 1977 de Kooning emphatically declared: "I think I would choose Soutine [as my favourite artist] ... I've always been crazy about Soutine - all of his paintings". Of all the Abstract Expressionists, de Kooning was the only one who continued to praise Soutine throughout his career and to credit him with an influence on his work. De Kooning very likely first discovered Soutine's work before the Second World War in the New York galleries. Indeed, his figure paintings of the 1940s with their distortion and sense of compression already shared characteristics with Soutine's figures painted of two decades earlier. A significant turning point in de Kooning's work, evident in his celebrated series of Women paintings of the early 1950s, coincides with his in-depth study of the artistic world of Soutine at both The Modern's retrospective and his visit to the Barnes Foundation with his wife Elaine de Kooning in June 1952. It was during these years that the Dutch-American artist matured his own personal form of expressionism, which, with its visceral brushstrokes and heavy impasto, lies somewhere between figuration and abstraction.
Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishing
Number of pages: 176
Dimensions: 280 x 248 mm
...this show is so beautiful that it's a near religious experience. * The Brooklyn Rail 05/07/2021 *
For lovers of paint. For anyone fascinated by pigmented, viscous oil lavishly applied to canvas. For those who delight in the curly cues it forms when dry after coming off the brush, the smears, the smudges, the dabs, the dollops, the streaks, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has a treat for you. * Forbes 05/07/2021 *
...puts the two monumental yet still arguably under-appreciated 20th Century artists in dialogue with one another, via forty-five paintings meant to exhibit both the fierce individuality of each, but also the Expressionist thread that connects them. * Black Book *
De Kooning later recalled. "The Soutines had a glow that came from within the paintings-it was another kind of light." Nearly 70 years later, a Barnes wall of Soutines will be offset by a wall of De Koonings, illuminating each other. * The Art Newspaper *
This extraordinary exhibition... this juxtaposition of two painters given to big gestures, thick paint, and intense emotion feels exhausting and exhilarating. * The Philadelphia Inquirer *
...it's a pleasure to see them together-to see just how two very different artists, in their own different ways, pushed the boundaries of expression by pushing paint. * Wall Street Journal 06/05/2021 *