Oct 9th, 2021, 09:39 PM

Exhibit Review: La Peinture Incarnée

By Corrie Delva
Chaïm Soutine & Willem de Kooning's work is showing at the Musée de l'Orangerie !

The Musée de L’Orangerie, located in the Jardins de Tuileries, is currently showing "La Peinture Incarnée", an exhibition featuring the works of Chaïm Soutine and Willem de Kooning. The exhibition opened on September 15 and is available until January 10th of next year. This exhibition explains visually the influence Soutine had on the work of de Kooning and describes well the ways in which art is recycled and reformed from generation to generation. I recently visited this exhibit, and while I love this concept of "art reincarnate"’, I have some words regarding the efficacy of getting this message across. 

Now I’d like to first preface and say that I am by no means an art critic, but from the perspective of an avid museum-goer, I would say that I was quite blasé to this particular exhibit. I am one who likes to be intrigued by the art I consume, typically attending more artistic museums rather than historical ones. This exhibit was very classic, as was this type of art, so I believe it fits, just not with my particular style. The whole exhibit took up four rooms, and pieces from first Soutine and then de Kooning displayed on each wall, in chronological order. At the beginning of each room lied a description of the stage in de Kooning’s career, and the last room contained a timeline from 1903 to 1997, with information from both of their lives. This room is also the first nonvisual aspect to the exposition, with a video of de Kooning working.


While I could not really relate to much of the art from either of them, one piece particularly stood out to me. Chaïm Soutine has a series of paintings called ‘Flesh’, which depict beef carcasses and hanging fowl in a very grotesque and real way. While looking around, this piece stood out the most to me (compared to the dainty women or landscape paintings), as it evoked a lot of what we as viewers typically look away from. 

In the space itself, I was surprisingly overwhelmed by the number of people viewing the exhibit at the time I went. Upon entering, each room was very packed. If you are one who enjoys a more quiet/relaxed museum experience (like I do), I would not recommend going in the middle of the day. I did not get much time in front of each piece as there was a constant influx of new people, many of them in guided groups taking up much of the space. Because the museum is located in one of the most visited parks in the city, the area was filled despite it being a weekday. I did notice a lot of those who viewed with me were a lot older than me, perhaps due to the time of day or the kind of art these artists produce.


All in all, I would rate this particular exhibit with a 6 rating. It was cohesive in that I understood the progression of these men’s lives, but I wish there was a bit more diversity in the way the art was displayed, and in our interaction with it. If nothing else, this exhibit showed me how cyclical art really is, as one artist can live a lifetime creating work in the style of another, just to create their own expression through this. I believe art is about relatability. If you’re into early 20th-century art, and also interested in how art is reworked, through the lens of the “reworker”, I would definitely suggest visiting le Musée de l’Orangerie before January 10th!