Soutine and De Kooning at L’Orangerie

Running until 10th January 2022, Musée de L’Orangerie features one of the strongest exhibitions presented in Paris at the moment: Soutine / De Kooning traces the impact Soutine’s art had on De Kooning’s career. The exhibition is co-organised with the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

Curated by Claire Bernardi, Chief Curator at the Musée d’Orsay and Simonetta Fraquelli, Curator for the Barnes Foundation, this remarkable exhibition parallels the work of two masters. It explores De Kooning’s fascination for Soutine’s visual gestures, vibrant portraits, and art historical references. Sensing the tension between the eternal quest for structural forms and abstract informality, De Kooning visually responded to Soutine’s universe in his own way, to become one of the most important artists of 20th century.

The relationship between figure and formlessness, the painting of the “flesh,” and the dynamic pictorial practice are three of the five main themes examined in this intimate yet powerful exhibition, which brings together 43 paintings by both artists.

The pictorial developments of De Kooning’s innovative artistic language marks the moment when he confronted Soutine’s art. De Kooning discovered his predecessor’s work as early as the 1930s. The majestic retrospective exhibition dedicated to the painter at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1950 also represented a turning point for De Kooning. He was particularly impressed by the presentation of Soutine’s works in the collections of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where he went with his wife Elaine in June 1952. This ‘epiphany’ resulted in endless inspiration for his own creativity.

Image: Chaïm Soutine, Le garcon d’etageVers 1927, Huile sur toile, © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de l’Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski.