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
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
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.