I know that several of my subscribers will not be pleased with today's post on flesh. Are you about to be shocked by naked bodies adorning the text, galivanting unbridled around the blog? Sadly not so, especially as that would provide us with beautiful images. Today we are going to look at the flesh of animals! And we must thank Julie of Melbourne for providing the stimulus for this blog.
After visiting the Musee D'Orsay recently Julie sent a photo of A Quarter of Beef (1864) by Claude Monet.Julie made two interesting comments:
First: The three dimensional aspect in the image was just incredible "in the flesh". The raw meat just seemed to be jumping out of the picture!
And Second and more importantly: The painting seemed a very "un Monet" sort of subject for him to paint and shows how he changed his style and subject matter over the years. Monet wasn't just painting water lillies and Rouen Cathedral.
Quarter of Beef by Claude Monet (Image: pubhist.com)
I started to wonder how many artist painted hunks of meat and whilst doing some research into Chaim Soutine (1893-1943 (the artist the restaurant in St John's Wood was named after) I discovered Monsieur Soutine also liked to paint flesh. In fact the title of a retrospective exhibition of the works of Chaim Soutine, curated in 2018 by Stephen Brown, at the Jewish Museum in New York, was titled Flesh.
I understand if your stomach is heaving a little (mine is) but what is important here in terms of art is that both Monet and Soutine have shown their expertise as artists in being able to paint such lifelike meat. If you would like to read and see more of Chaim Soutine's "flesh" works please follow this link to read about The Vulnerable Ferocity of Chaim Soutine.
I have to conclude with a confession: I am one of the people that is not too keen on animal flesh. I like my animals covered in fur, wool, feathers and even scales. I'll pass on having to tuck into a quarter of beef. Personally I am trying to prove that you can live to be 100 on a diet of ice-cream!! And the best ice-cream in the world can be bought in the High Street of St John's Wood, London- just a short walk from the Soutine Restaurant, names after Chaim Soutine and which no doubt serves flesh!