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Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint

Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint


This catalogue accompanies the world premiere exhibition Soutine / de Kooning:

Conversations in Paint at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Organized with the Musées d'Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris, the exhibition and catalogue explore the affinities between the work of influential Lithuanian artist Chaïm Soutine (1893–1943), who lived and worked in Paris, and leading abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning (1904–1997).


Soutine / de Kooning: Conversations in Paint considers how Soutine’s work, with its built-up surfaces and energetic brushwork, had a decisive impact on the development of de Kooning’s art, especially following Soutine’s celebrated posthumous retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1950. The expressive force of Soutine’s paintings, coupled with his image as a struggling bohemian artist living in Paris during the interwar years, imparted a particular influence on a new generation of postwar painters in the United States. In 1977, when asked about the artists who had most influenced him, de Kooning declared: “I think I would choose Soutine . . . I’ve always been crazy about Soutine—all of his paintings.” De Kooning, more than any other artist of his generation, understood the tension between

the opposing poles in Soutine’s work: a search for structure with a passionate connection to art history, and a pronounced tendency toward the formless. De Kooning was the only abstract expressionist who continued to praise Soutine throughout his career and to credit him with being important for the development of his own work.


The catalogue includes essays illuminating the careers of both artists, as well as Dr. Albert C. Barnes’s important role in collecting and promoting Soutine’s work. It also contains reprints of selected writings on Soutine and de Kooning, as well as a chronology, a checklist of works in the Soutine retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1950, and an illustrated checklist of paintings by Soutine on view at the Barnes Foundation. The exhibition catalogue is made possible with generous support provided by the Lois and Julian Brodsky Publications Fund.

  • Edited by Simonetta Fraquelli and Claire Bernardi

    Hardback, 280 x 248 mm

    176 pages, 120 illustrations

    ISBN 978-1-911300-88-5

  • Exhibition

    The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

    7 March – 8 August 2021


    Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris

    15 September 2021 – 10 January 2022

  • In the press

    "For lovers of paint. For anyone fascinated by pigmented, viscous oil lavishly applied to canvas. For those who delight in the curly cues it forms when dry after coming off the brush, the smears, the smudges, the dabs, the dollops, the streaks, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has a treat for you." —Forbes


    "This extraordinary exhibition... this juxtaposition of two painters given to big gestures, thick paint, and intense emotion feels exhausting and exhilarating." —The Philadelphia Inquirer


    "...De Kooning later recalled. “The Soutines had a glow that came from within the paintings—it was another kind of light.” Nearly 70 years later, a Barnes wall of Soutines will be offset by a wall of De Koonings, illuminating each other." —The Art Newspaper


    "’s a pleasure to see them together—to see just how two very different artists, in their own different ways, pushed the boundaries of expression by pushing paint." —Wall Street Journal


    "the exhibition catalogue is excellent" —New Criterion


    "Beginning with educational essays, the book reproduces all the works exhibited (ending with images of the other Soutines still in the Barnes) and includes not only the expected chronology, but also a telling assemblage of relevant critical texts. The book is to hold and keep..." —The Key Reporter, Phi Betta Kappa Society


    "...this show is so beautiful that it’s a near religious experience." —The Brooklyn Rail


    "The key element of this catalogue ... is the comparing of specific paintings by de Kooning and Soutine." — The Burlington Magazine

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