Soulages, French (1919 - )
A painter, printmaker and sculptor, Soulages
was born at Rodez, Aveyron in France. Influenced by the Celtic
carvings in the local museum and by the Romanesque art and architecture
of that region, he began to take an interest in art and began
to paint. He went to Paris in 1938, where he saw the exhibitions
of Picasso and Cézanne, and briefly studied at the Ecole
Soulages' early paintings were often of leaf-less trees in
winter, with the black branches contrasting against the background
sky. After returning back to his hometown after his brief stay
in Paris, he met Sonia Delaunay, with whom he discovered abstract
art. In 1946, he moved back to Paris and began to make his first
non-figurative works in 1947. At this time he came in contact
with other artists such as Picabia and Léger, and took
part in the Salon des Superindépendants. His paintings
were characterized by heavy, broad black gestures on a light
ground. Often, he would let the tools dictate the aesthetic
effect of his paintings, using a wide rubber spatula or roller
brushes instead of the traditional paintbrush.
In 1949, at the Galerie Lydia Conti, Paris, Soulages had his
first solo exhibition. In 1952, he made his first etchings.
After 1955, he began to paint with even looser, slashing brushstrokes,
sometimes with more fluid washes of color. Soulages also worked
in other media, designing sets and costumes. In 1987 he designed
the monumental tapestry for the French Finance Ministry. Soulages
is considered the greatest French painter of his generation
and has received recognition worldwide.
In 1979, Pierre Soulages 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).
Soulages 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 composition he created in 1959 sold for 1.200.000 euros at Sotheby's in 2006.
In 2007, the Musée Fabre of Montpellier devoted an entire room to Soulages, presenting his donation to the city. This donation includes twenty paintings dating from 1951 to 2006, among which are major works from the 1960s, two large plus-black works from the 1970s, and several large polyptychs.
A retrospective of his art was held at the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou from October 2009 to March 2010. In 2010, the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico presented a retrospective of Soulages' paintings that also included an interview-video with the painter (Spanish subtitles).
||Pierre Soulages is born on December 24th, in Rodez, France.
From an early age, he is interested in Romanesque and prehistoric
art. He begins to paint in his remote native province, oblivious
to the contemporary artistic tendencies.
At 18, he moves to Paris to prepare for the entrance
examination at the École nationale supérieure
des Beaux-Arts. He passes but, convinced of the mediocrity
of the teaching, returns immediately to Rodez. During
this short stay in Paris he visits the Louvre and discovers
Modern art through two important exhibitions of Cézanne
He is mobilized in 1940 and dismissed in 1941. As Paris
is occupied, he moves to Montpellier where he regularly
visits the Musée Fabre. In 1942, he escapes from
mandatory work camps in Germany by becoming a wine maker.He
stops painting during this period.
Pierre Soulages settles in Paris and dedicates himself
full-time to painting. Soon, his abstract and dark works,
so different from the semi-figurative and colorful art
of the post-war years, receive notoriety.
He finds a studio in Paris, on rue Schoelcher, near
Montparnasse. He participates in group exhibitions in
Paris and in other European cities, including “Französische
abstrakte Malerei” which travels to several German
museums.He is by far the youngest member of the small
group of abstract painters, that include the masters Kupka,
Doméla,and Herbin. The poster of the group is illustrated
by one of his black-and-white paintings.
First individual exhibition in Paris at the Galerie
Lydia Conti, and several group shows in London, São
Paulo,Copenhagen and New York. First stage settings for
Roger Vaillant at the Théatre des Mathurins in
Paris. From 1949 to 1952, he realizes three other stage
designs for theatre and ballet.
First engravings in the studio Lacourière. Participates
in several traveling group exhibitions in American museums,
such as “Advancing French Art” (1951) and
“Younger European Artists” at the Solomon
R. Guggenheim Museum (1953) and "The New Decade"
at the Museum of Modern Art (1955). First one-person show
in New York at Kootz Gallery (1954) where he exhibits
regularly until 1966. During this time, his works are
purchased by the Phillips Gallery, Washington; the Solomon
R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New
York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Musée National
d'Art Moderne, Paris; the Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de
Janeiro, etc. Today more than one-hundred and fifty of
his paintings are part of museum collections.
First one-person show at La Galerie de France, Paris.
|First retrospective exhibitions at the museums of Hanover,
Essen, Zurich, The Hague.
Retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts,
||Retrospective exhibition at the Musée National
d'Art Moderne, Paris.
“Paintings since 1963”, Museum of Art,
Pittsburgh; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo. Retrospective
exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Contemporain,
Montréal; Musée du Québec, Québec.
“Paintings in France”, National Gallery, Washington,
Traveling retrospective exhibition at the Musée
dynamique, Dakar; Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian,
Lisbon; Salas del Patrimonio Artístico y Cultural,
Madrid; Musée Fabre, Montpellier; Museo de Arte
Moderno, Mexico; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas; Museo
Maracaibo, Fundaçao Cultural, Brasilia; Museu da
Universidade, São Paulo; Museu de Arte Moderna,
Rio de Janeiro; Musée d’Art et d’Industrie,
Exhibition at the MNAM-Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris,
of his first monochromatic paintings, exploring the light
reflected by the different textures of the black surface.
This light emerging out of the difference between two
kinds of dark surfaces contains a great power of emotion
and possibilities of development. Later it will be named
“noir-lumière” and “outrenoir”.
||Retrospective exhibition at the Seibu Museum of Art, Tokyo.
|Recent work shown at Musée Saint Pierre-Art Contemporain,
Lyon; Hans-Thoma Gesellschaft, Reutlingen.
Retrospective exhibition, “40 years of painting”
at Museum Fridericianum, Kassel; IVAM-Centro Julio González,
Valencia; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes.
||“Soulages, Recent Paintings”, Museum Moderner
Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna.
“Polyptyques 1979-1991”, Maison des Arts
Georges Pompidou, Cajarc.
“A retrospective”, Musée National
d'Art Contemporain, Seoul.
||“A retrospective”, China Fine Arts Palace
(Meschuguan), Peking; Fine Arts Museum, Taipei. “Soulages
Lebendiges Licht”, Westfälisches Landesmuseum,
Münster showing recent paintings of the artist alongwith
projects for the stain glasses of the abbey of Conques.
|Retrospective exhibition, “Soulages noir lumière”
at the Musée d'Art Moderne Ville de Paris; Musée
des Beaux-Arts de Montréal; Museu de Arte, São
Pierre Soulages creates the one-hundred and four stained
glass windows of the Romanesque abbey of Conques with
the master glass artist Jean-Dominique Fleury.
Retrospective exhibition, “Soulages lob des Lichtes”,
Kunstmuseum, Berne. “Œuvres 1994-1999”,
Musée Fabre, Montpellier.
|Retrospective, “Soulages 82 paintings”, M.A.C.
les Abattoirs, Toulouse.
Retrospective, “Lumière du noir”,
The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; Tretyakov
“Soulages, l’œuvre imprimé”,
Bibliothèque Nationale (site Tolbiac), Paris.