Strong Giants with a Restless Soul

Chaïm Soutine and his "Le printemps a Champigny" (1942-1943)

Le Printemps à Champigny (1942-1943) by Chaim SOUTINECollezione Barilla di Arte Moderna

Trees lashed by the wind

Tall and massive, these are the trees that Soutine paints for his whole artistic career: huge, powerful and ancient but lashed by a severe wind, near which a man seems only as a small and meaningless appearance in a reality that dominates him. An agitation is constantly present that isn’t a meteorological phenomenon but real movement of an uncertain and tormented soul, always in search of an impossible quiet: it’s that of the artist who finds no peace.

Pulsating silence

Only at the end of his life, which occurred in 1943 for disease when the Jewish artist escaped the roundups of Paris, this agony subsides, the winds become less threatening and the colors stretch, however without losing their vitality, as can be read in the painting that we see here, one of his latest works: cold colors, pulsating silence, vibration of air converge in the representation of these trees that create a monolith.

Madeleine and Marcellin Castaig

Le printemps a Champigny is an important and beloved work that was part of a wide collection of 60 paintings by Soutine owned by a couple of friends, Madeleine and Marcellin Castaing, patrons and supporters. The relationship among the three friends was of fundamental importance: it was begun in the 1920s and was consolidated in 1928 when the artist finally portrayed the young woman.

Guest in Champigny

The artist will spend a lot of time as a guest of the Castaing spouses in the great villa of Levès that the couple owns near Chartres. Here he comes into contact with a nature that becomes the subject of his representations. He repeatedly continues to portray great trees to tell the landscape with strong expressionistic accents.

The author

In Paris at the start of the century, artists from all over Europe bring their experiences and visions into a unique melting pop for the epoch. Foreign artists meet here like Picasso, Chagall, Brancusi, Modigliani, our Soutine and his French mates Matisse, Bonnard, Lèger.


Soutine puts himself at the center of attention both for his original character and for his personal poetics. He brings the expressiveness of color to the limit that folds the forms into a single shout of violence, sometimes suffocated and silent, but always strong. Paris has before it a boundless and ingenious painter, who hasn’t comparison with any other personality of the epoch and he will become the inspiration for the future generations, anticipating for example Francis Bacon’s work.

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