Seven Days…a Halloween Mini-series!
Perhaps the only thing more disturbing than a painting of a flayed carcass of beef is knowing that it was painted entirely from a real-life specimen. Chaïm Soutine started sourcing meat models from Parisian poultry shops and slaughterhouses as early as the late 1910s, but it wasn’t until around 1925 that he managed to procure an entire steer carcass for himself. Much to his neighbors chagrin, Soutine kept the carcass long enough to paint four large-scale canvases (including the Gallery’s), several sketches, and a number of smaller canvases. When the police finally showed up to confiscate the rotting, fly-ridden health hazard, Soutine promptly informed them that art was more important than sanitation. The officers’ response, unfortunately, was not recorded.
Image: Chaïm Soutine (Russian, born Lithuania, 1893–1943). Carcass of Beef, ca. 1925. Oil on canvas, 61 1/2 x 48 1/4 inches (156.2 x 122.6 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1939.