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Pierre Soulages

Born in 1919 - France

BIOGRAPHY

Pierre Soulages, born in December 1919 in Rodez, Aveyron is a French painter and engraver. He was associated with abstract art during late 1940's and since then is considered as one of the key figures of this movement. Right from the age of 18, he was admitted at the Ecole nationale des Beaux-arts in Paris, but he didn't agree with the quality of the teachings and went back to Rodez.

It was only in 1946, after France's liberation that he was able to dedicate himself to painting and thereby settled down in the suburbs of Paris. His walnut stain work compositions, shaped with large brown strokes were very quickly acknowledged as they stood out due to their after war semi-figurative and colorfulness, qualified as Neo-Fauvist.

Black dominates the dark and abstract paintings of Soulages. 1960 and 1970 onwards, he began to give importance to black in the background. Black textures like in the Outrenoirs series in 1979, when he began to cover his canvases with a thick layer of black paint. This series gives sculptural dimension to his paintings, which one can find in his previous works as well. Moreover, the black paint with other colors which are developed in his first works are once again explored in his later works, when he combines black with sea blue.

Whether in the transparency of windows or reflections of the dark material which he models at the surface of his paintings, Soulages gradually began to paint directly with light. In his Outrenoirs, he is able to achieve a shade of gray with white radiance, through the glossy effect that the reliefs produce, highligted with oil and later acrylic. HE doesn't want to impress the spectator by a multitude of mindboggling effects, but mainly attract the attention on a discreet phenomenon like the contrasts which move along with the spectator.

Pierre Soulages is one of the leading representatives of informal painting and is now represented in more than 110 museums on all continents with over 230 paintings. In the early 50's, his works were bought by the Phillips Gallery in Washington DC, Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Art Museu Moderna in Rio de Janeiro, etc...

In October 2009, Le centre Pompidou dedicated the largest retrospective ever devoted to a living artist by the center since the early 1980s, a retrospective which still remains a big hit as it was the most visited exhibition. He is also the first living artist to be invited to exhibit at the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg. Moreover, an exceptional donation from the artist, Musée Soulages in Rodez was inaugurated in 2014 with the first temporary exhibition «Outrenoir en Europe, musées et fondations».

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