Modern Old Master

Chaim Soutine at the Albright-Knox is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Beast: In the 1920s, Chaim Soutine riffed on Rembrandt's butchery.

(Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1939; © 2011 Artists Rights Society, New York / ADAGP, Paris)

Just back from a visit to the fantastic Albright-Knox museum in Buffalo, one of the first places where I acquired an intimate knowledge of modern art. On my first visits, I was still mired deep in Renaissance and Old Master art, so this side of beef, painted by Chaim Soutine in about 1925, immediately struck a chord. Although I can’t remember at the time if I recognized its source in Rembrandt – because I kept linking it to the still earlier butcher-shop images of Bartolomeo Passarotti, and thinking about the strange survival of certain motifs across the centuries, even if they are absolute unica the first time they come along.

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