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Pierre Soulages

French, b.1919

Pierre Soulages was born in 1919 Rodez, Aveyron Southern France and is one of the most celebrated artists of both this century and the last, as his contribution to Abstract Expressionism has been paramount. An accomplished engraver, sculptor and set designer, Soulages is best known for his paintings and is often nicknamed ‘the painter of black’.

In 1946 Soulages moved with his wife Colette to Paris and set up a studio. He quickly broke onto the Post-War art scene, befriending the likes of Hans Hartung, Francis Picabia and Fernand Léger and became known for his bold black and white abstraction works as well as his innovative walnut stain paintings. In 1949, he had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Lydia Conti in Paris and by the early 1950’s he had caught the attention of renowned New York galleries Samuel Kootz who helped launched his career in America.

In 1979 Soulages’ style changed considerably. Although black had been a prominent feature throughout his work, it now dominated. He covered large canvases with thick layers of paint, applied with spoons, rakes, brooms and bits of rubber which created uneven and textured surfaces. Soulages no longer used black in the conventional form but as a tool to reflect light off his canvases. This manipulation of light enabled him to transcend and transform the colour to have multiple functions. Soulages named this series of work, Outrenoir, which translates to Beyond Black.

Soulages still actively paints today and divides between Paris and Sète.

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