Pierre Soulages

France, 1919

Known as "the painter of black," Pierre Soulages’ paintings, prints, and sculptures explore the idea of black as “both a color and a non-color”.  He began using a wood stain to make abstract, gestural works on paper, later switching to oil on canvas and explains; “When light is reflected on black, it transforms and transmutes it. It opens a mental field all its own." Soulages uses light as a medium and the applications of superficial black areas in his paintings allow for the reflection of light which ultimately create luminous colors from these dark areas. He contrasts areas of smooth surface brushwork against ridges, scores, and gashes, and often alternates between matte and gloss black paint. Soulages is one of the major figures in European abstraction, despite his resistance to associations with abstract expressionism.

Born in Rodez, France, in 1919, Soulages was named a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, with a room of the Musée Fabre, Montpellier entirely given to him. Soulages was the subject of the largest exhibition for a living artist at the Pompidou Center in 2009, and the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico in 2010. He is the first living artist invited to exhibit at the state Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg and with the Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow.  The artist lives and works in Paris, France.

Image: Photo by Dorian Bayol