Whirlwind forces blowing over modern painting shot this painting by Chaïm Soutine over the million mark. Bram Van Velde (1895-1981) was also wafted aloft on the wings of success, and set a world record.
Chaïm Soutine (1894-1943), Trees in the Wind or Before the Storm, c. 1939, oil on Isorel panel, 68.5 x 87 cm/27 x 34.2 in.
This storm-tossed painting by Chaïm Soutine, which was featured on the front page of Gazette no. 43, attracted a powerful gust of €1,082,240. Trees in the Wind or Before the Storm dates from around 1929. In the article accompanying the antepenultimate cover of 2022, Henri Guette drew a parallel between this tormented tree, the journey of the painter (a young Jew who came from Belarus after a period in Vilnius), and the larger forces of history that were poised to sweep across the civilized world. Though we inevitably see a premonitory vision of what was to come in this painting, we know that the psychological aspect was always present in Soutine's work, whose expressionistic style varied little. The features of his characters are almost caricatural, with bodies subjected to terrible distortions. When he painted animals, they were dead, or even skinned carcasses. So his trees (he depicted several species) could not merely be in full bloom! Next came two works by the Dutch artist Bram Van Velde. These were special, since they came from the publisher and art critic Jacques Putman (1926-1994), formerly married to Andrée. The husband and wife were famous patrons, and both steadfastly supported Van Velde, who achieved international recognition in the late 1950s. The 1954 gouache Untitled (Portrait of Andrée) (108 x 73 cm/42.5 x 28.7 in) fetched €130,000, while Untitled, Paris rue des Grands-Augustins, an oil on canvas from 1960 (see photo), went for €741,000, gaining a world record for the artist (source: Artnet).