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Chaïm Soutine Exhibition | K20

La Liseuse

La Liseuse

Chaïm Soutine: Against the Current; K20 Kunstsammlung NRW.

(This post also appears, in slightly different form, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)

First off, this exhibition at the K20 in Düsseldorf, Germany, ends January 14, 2024. So if you live in the neighborhood, time’s running out! It’s fantastic. So many incredible works from this towering Expressionist in one place, well-placed and well-lit, and with a fine and well-articulated audio tour.

8 shots, see the gallery at the bottom:

  • Exhibition Entry
  • Paysage de Céret (Landscape at Céret), 1920–1
  • La Colline de Céret (Hill at Céret), 1920–1
  • La Place du village, Céret (Village Square at Céret), 1920
  • Nature morte à la raie (Still Life with Rayfish), 1923
  • La Volaille pendue (Hanging Fowl), 1925
  • La Liseuse (Woman Reading), 1940
  • K20 Restrooms Selfie

Paysage de Céret captivated me for quite some time. I can’t tell exactly why, but it invited me to take a lengthy walk through its multidimensional space.

La Colline de Céret, with that strikingly inaccessible house on top of the hill, and La Place du Village, with the gigantic wave about to crash into this shaking, unraveling village, are among his most famous (non-portrait) paintings, and they’re more breathtaking the longer you look. In the village square, by the way, you see a human figure at bottom center. Many of his paintings depict such a figure somewhere. And of course, each time I imagined it to be my avatar, and how cool it would be to create a game where you live inside the worlds of these paintings.

As for Nature morte à la raie and La Volaille pendue—you have to see to believe the unreal transparencies Soutine achieved in these paintings, not to speak of their respective motifs and treatments.

Finally, La Liseuse. To quote Soutine’s friend Madeleine Castaing, in turn quoted by the audio tour:

The particular inspiration—a gesture, an attitude, a glance—he longed for and would seize upon, would not come. […] As usual, the pose he had insisted on was tyrannical and lasted until the moment when the woman, at the limit of her endurance, began to stare at the book as if it were an instrument of torture. This was the moment that inspired the painter, and he grasped for it.

There you go. And in The Name of Rose I just posted about, books even kill!

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