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Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
Property from the Collection of Lew and Edie Wasserman
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)

L'Arbre

Details
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
L'Arbre
signed 'Soutine' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 27½ in. (65 x 69.9 cm.)
Painted circa 1939
Provenance
Carroll Carstairs Gallery, New York (by 1940).
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock, Los Angeles (1968).
Acquired from the above by Lew and Edie Wasserman, Los Angeles, circa 1970.
Literature
E. Dunow, G. Loudmer, K. Perls and M. Tuchman, Chaim Soutine, Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. I, p. 312, no. 173 (illustrated in color, p. 314).
Exhibited
New York, Carroll Carstairs Gallery, Paintings by Soutine, April-May 1940, no. 9.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Chaim Soutine, February-April 1968, p. 47, no. 84 (illustrated).
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Soutine, Summer 1968, no. 46.

Lot Essay

Soutine spent the summer of 1939 at Cèvry-sur-Serein, near Auxerre in the department of the Yonne, with Gerda Groth, a German refugee whom he had met in 1937 and nicknamed "Mlle Garde." At the outbreak of World War II in September, both Soutine and Groth, as foreigners, were forbidden to leave Cèvry. Soutine was eventually allowed to return to Paris for health reasons but was never again to see Groth, who was permitted to return to Paris the following year only to be interned with other Germans there.

The landscapes of the late 1930s and 1940s represent a return for Soutine to the complex compositions of the Céret and Cagnes paintings of the 1920s. Since this earlier period, Soutine had undergone a process of simplification, relying on depictions of a single object and its relationship to its surroundings. With the Auxerre landscapes from 1939, however, Soutine reintroduced varied compositional structures and multiplicity of forms. "In some ways, Soutine travels full circle in these landscapes, reinvesting the energies that had animated the Céret pictures into an image that is now anchored with a more structured and 'traditional' armature. The energy is no longer equated with chaos and anarchy and compression but is directed and contained by readable forms in a definable space. There is the same rhythm that animates forms, the same dynamism permeating the whole, but the growing stress on clarity and recognizability, developing throughout his landscape oeuvre, now effects a reorganization and rechanneling of these sensations. Before, the paint and brushstroke abstractly generated metaphors of wind, atmosphere and storm; now Soutine is painting the wind actually hitting and passing through the tree" (E. Dunow, G. Loudmer, K. Perls and M. Tuchman, op. cit., p. 99).

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