Artistic Emigres

As the center of artistic interest, Paris attracted many foreign painters in the early 20th century, and within a few years of each other three Jewish émigrés, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall, and Amedeo Modigliani, had all arrived in the city. Though they became friends and gained inspiration from the recent innovations in art, they were each highly original artists and their paintings stand alone, defying categorization and imitation.

The three painters that we look at here were all born outside France, and they remained outsiders to the Parisian art scene for more than merely cultural reasons (Soutine and Chagall were both Russian, and Modigliani was Italian). These painters shared the isolation of being ``other'', never truly belonging to any group or adhering to a single manifesto.

Chaim Soutine, a passionate Expressionist

Chaim Soutine (1894-1943) came to Paris in 1913. He was the only painter in the city who was in the least like Georges Rouault, and as a Parisian Expressionist, he belonged to the ``School of Paris''. Soutine's style of applying thickly encrusted paint was quite different from Rouault's, but his wild, chaotic spirit, sorrowful and vehement, is like that of the Frenchman. Just as Rouault, despite his Fauvist connections, is seen as inherently Expressionist, so Soutine was a natural, though singular, Expressionist.

Soutine's religion was the earth. He painted the sacredness of the country with a passion that makes his art hard to read. Landscape at Ceret (c. 1920-21; 56 x 84 cm (22 x 33 in)) is so dense that it could be abstract, and it does take enormous liberties with the earthly facets, but when we do ``read'' it, hill and tree and road take on a new significance for us.

Modigliani's mannered art

© 14 Oct 2002, Nicolas Pioch - Top - Up - Info
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