‘Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters & Bellboys’
“Whether they exude brio or meekness,” writes Lucy Scholes in the NYR Daily about a new survey of Chaïm Soutine’s paintings, “the boys in these portraits are very much alive. Still, when I look at the pastry cook, I see a child with hollow eyes and huge clown-like ears playing at dress-up. There’s none of the swagger of the frock-coated Room Service Waiter (circa 1928) that hangs on the opposite wall—another haughty manspreader, hands in pockets, with slickly lacquered hair. I imagine him exchanging insults with The Little Pastry Cook (circa 1927), a boy intent on projecting the stature of a man. His stance echoes that of the star bellboy, the same hands on hips, roguishly occupying space, the freshness of his kitchen whites as striking as the bellboy’s red ensemble—which leaves me wondering just how posed these subjects are, whether Soutine purposely encouraged such postural repetition? Or perhaps the waiter’s lingering on the back stairs, making promises he had no intention of keeping while flirting with the demure-looking Waiting Maid (circa 1933), whose mouth is curled into the hint of a sly, shy smile.”
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