Pierre Soulages

b.1919

Pierre Soulages was born in the rocky region of Aveyron, France, in 1919. He grew up in an environment abundant with prehistoric and Roman artefacts, which profoundly influencing the works he would go on to produce.

In 1938, Soulages first visited Paris where he discovered the work of predecessors in particular Picasso and Cézanne. In 1946, he permanently settled in Paris, which marked a gear change in his career. He quickly gained notoriety with his bold abstract creations that resonated with those of Hans Hartung and Gérard Schneider, however Soulages claimed to follow no specific artistic movement or pre-established categorization. Instead he explored idiosyncratic means of expression, developing his own pictorial language around his outspoken desire to "materialize light". Soulages became known as "the painter of black", owing to his interest in it as both colour and a non-colour. "When light is reflected on black, it transforms and transmutes it. It opens a mental field all its own." He sees light as a work material, striations of the black surface of his paintings enable him to reflect light, allowing the black to come out of darkness and into brightness, thus becoming luminous. 

Soulages is one of the pioneers of post-war abstract painting and is considered one of the most innovative painters of the 20th century. In 1979, he was made a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. From 1987 to 1994, he produced 104 stained glass windows for the Romanesque Abbey church Sainte-Foy in Conques (Aveyron, France). He is the first living artist invited to exhibit at the state Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and later with the Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow (2001).  A retrospective of his art was held at the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou from 2009 to 2010. In 2010, the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico presented a retrospective of Soulages' paintings. In 2014, Musée Soulages, opened in Rodez, France, Soulages' hometown. A museum dedicated to permanently displaying his works; plus temporary contemporary exhibitions.

Available artworks

Pierre Soulages , Gouache sur papier 76 x 57.5 cm, 1977
Pierre Soulages , Lavis encre de Chine, 54 x 76 cm, 1964
Pierre Soulages , Peinture 81 x 100 cm, 17 janvier 1974
Pierre Soulages , Peinture 81 x 54 cm, 16 juin 1951