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Art Collection Curatorial Modern

From the Collection: Chaïm Soutine’s Children and Geese

Two young children walking in a field
Chaïm Soutine (Russian, 1893–1943, active in France), Children and Geese, 1934 (detail). Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1959.375. Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Two young children walking in a field
Chaïm Soutine (Russian, 1893–1943, active in France), Children and Geese, 1934. Oil on canvas. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Harry Lynde Bradley M1959.375. Photo credit: Efraim Lev-er. ©2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Many of the artists featured in the special exhibition Van Gogh to Pollock: Modern Rebels, Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also represented in the collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. This is the third in a series of blog posts that will highlight Milwaukee’s artworks during the run of the exhibition.

Comparing the painting by Chaïm Soutine (Russian, 1893–1943, active in France) in the Modern Rebels show (Carcass of Beef) with the one in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection (Children and Geese), it is almost difficult to believe that the two works are by the same artist. The former depicts the body of a cow, flayed open from neck to tail, its scarlet inner organs glistening vividly against the shadowed blue background. In contrast, the artwork within Milwaukee’s own collection is a simple rural scene: a young boy and girl walking down a country path, with abstract brushstrokes suggesting a flock of white geese beside them.

A shockingly graphic image of blood and death versus an innocent, bucolic portrayal of childhood. How could these two works have been painted by the same artist?