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Chaim Soutine

Paysage à la campagne à Céret

oil on canvas
ca. 1919-20
81,4 x 60 cm / 32 x 23 5/8 in.

In 1919, Soutine left La Ruche and travelled to Céret in the Pyrenees, as his mentor and dealer Leopold Zborowski suggested. It was to become a decisive period in Soutine’s life and work. He stayed for almost three years, working intensely and notably developing his style. When Soutine returned to Paris in 1922, he brought almost 200 paintings with him which he had created in Céret. In the following year, famous American collector Albert C. Barnes bought more than fifty paintings out of this body of work. This not only ended Soutine’s permanent financial troubles, but also significantly stimulated the recognition of his work. The Céret landscapes feature thicker, sometimes darker colours, broader brushstrokes and a new, more resolute painterly approach. The mountains and rocks, fields and stone houses Soutine renders in his paintings, once more become metaphors of the painter’s spiritual condition as they seem to dance, distorted and thrown into an endlessly revolving abyss. In Céret, Soutine invented the idea of living colours and prefigured abstract expressionism.

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