PAE: $2,254,880-$3,382,320
Pierre Soulages, Peinture 162 x 130 cm, 14 Avril 1962
Pierre Soulages, Peinture 162 x 130 cm, 14 Avril 1962, signed; signed, dated 14 avril 62 and dated 1962 on the reverse, oil on canvas, 162 x 130 cm; 63 3/4 x 51 3/16 in. Executed in 1962. © Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others.

Pierre Soulages (b. 1919) is a French painter associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement of New York in the 1940s and 1950s, and he is also recognized as part of France’s abstract movement called Tachisme. His paintings, in typical abstract manner, are said to represent nothing. However, his development as a completely abstract painter had its roots in imagery. His works from the mid 1940s to late 1950s are partly inspired by and mimic the crisscrossing of tree trunks and branches. Using walnut stain on paper, Soulages created these representations with marks that are lyrical and loose as seen in “Walnut stain and oil on paper, 74x47.5cm”, 1947, and “Walnut Stain”, 1959. The gestures recorded in these works are generally very respectful of the edges of the paper, which is important to note, since he is often wrongly credited as an “action painter”. Soulages is viewed as the French counterpart of Abstract Expressionism. His work developed alongside that of New York artists, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, and Franz Kline, but for the most part, Soulages' work differed in the fact that it remained non-gestural. His brushwork was much more calculated. While France had not known how to fully embrace abstraction, the United States welcomed Soulages and his work was strongly supported by James Johnson Sweeney, curator at the MoMA from 1935 to 1946, and Guggenheim, New York, from 1952 to 1960. By the 1960s his compositions had become larger in scale, devoid of representation, and bolder in contrast. In 1979 he abandoned color altogether and embarked on a phase titled “Outrenior” or “UltraBlack”. In this body of work that lasts til present day, Soulages completely fills the canvas with black, using tools and brushes to rake texture into the thick paint. This creates a surface, which reflects the natural light. To enhance this reflective experience Soulages uses different grades of paint, from matte to glossy. This technique allows Soulages to work more directly with light as subject matter. He states “black is light”. Pierre Soulages is represented by Galerie Perrotin and Dominique Lévy Gallery. In May 2014, the Musée Soulages opened in Rodez.

Video: Soulages - Processus de création - 1981. From: Adam Montmartre