HAPPENINGText: Stephanie Bui (The Daily Couture)

On December 24th 2019, Pierre Soulages will be 100 years old, and for the Louvre Museum it was a well worth occasion to pay tribute to the eminent artist with a solo exhibition “Soulages at the Louvre” until March 9th 2020. This event is “exceptional”, one of the exhibition curators Alfred Pacquement insists (the other curator Pierre Encrevé has died), because a contemporary eminent painter is having an exhibition at the Louvre Museum that unveils a “synthesis” of the work of an artist, and not just an installation art or a single artwork, as it happened in the past.

Portrait of Pierre Soulages © Collection Raphaël Gaillarde, dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Raphaël Gaillarde © RMN-Grand Palais-Gestion droit d’auteur pour Raphaël Gaillarde © ADAGP, Paris 2019 pour Pierre Soulages.

Some of Soulages’s major works, most of them from prominent French and foreign museums, are showcased, tracing the chronological development of the artist’s work from 1946 to the present day – the most recent painting is dated October 2019 –, through a selection of nearly twenty pieces created over eight decades.

Pierre Soulages, Painting, 220 x 366 cm, May 14, 1968. Paris, Musee National d’Art Moderne. Centre Pompidou © Archives Soulages © ADAGP, Paris 2019

Famed for his singular approach, the materials he used (for example, walnut stain and tar), the tools he created himself, which were more like those used by construction painters, his decision to name his works according to their technique, dimensions and date of execution rather than with titles that would influence viewers’ perception of them, Soulages’s artworks quickly hit the spotlight on the art scene in 1949, notably with one of his work chosen as the poster of the traveling exhibition “Grosse Ausstellung französischer abstrakter Malerei” present in Stuttgart, Munich, Düsseldorf, Hannover, Hamburg, Fribourg and Frankfurt from November 1948 to July 1949. That would help the young artist to gain recognition while exhibiting with other older and renowned artists such as Hans Hartung, Francis Bott, Felix Del Marle, César Domela, Auguste Herbin, Frantisek Kupka, Jean Piaubert and Gérard Schneider then.

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