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First Comparative Exhibition of Chaim Soutine and Francis Bacon at Helly Nahmad Gallery
Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Seated Figure, 1960. Oil on canvas, 152.5 x 119.5 cm. (60 x 47 in.). Albertina, Vienna - Batliner Collection.
NEW YORK, NY.- Helly Nahmad Gallery New York presents SOUTINE/BACON, the first comparative exhibition of Chaim Soutine and Francis Bacon, on view May 2 through June 18, 2011.

Chaim Soutine's paintings have not only had a crucial impact on the development of modern art in the twentieth century, but also a sustained critical influence on contemporary practice. The artists most often associated and identified with his influence are the post-war Abstract Expressionists in the United States, best exemplified by Willem de Kooning, who referred to Soutine as his "favorite artist."

Francis Bacon, who went to live in Paris in 1927 as a young man, with a future not yet determined, became aware of Soutine's already legendary paintings of beef carcasses. The images and the legends about their making resonated with him, as he had always since his boyhood in Ireland been fascinated to the point of obsession with slaughtered beef carcasses in local abattoirs.

The present exhibition demonstrates that Soutine's paintings of carcasses were a trigger for Bacon's essential vision, possibly even the reason he was to become a painter. He intuited from Soutine's carcasses the basis for his art and art making. "If I go to the National Gallery and I look at one of the great paintings that excite me there," Bacon explained, "it's not so much the painting that excites me as that the painting unlocks all kinds of valves of sensation within me." It is no great leap to believe that Soutine's were among the works that had a decisive effect on him—that unlocked his valves of sensation.

There are distinct links between the two painters: direct painting and general studio practice, the equation of oil pigment with flesh, and a certain aggressive re-invention of Old Master paintings.

This groundbreaking SOUTINE/BACON exhibition is the very first to explicitly pair, compare, and historically situate these two magnificent painters. Museums and institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern and Bacon Foundation in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Albertina in Vienna, the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, the Kunsthaus Zurich, and the Pearlman Foundation with the Art Museum of Princeton University have generously agreed to lend works.

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