Pierre Soulages

Le noir

January 15 – October 30, 2016

For the first time since the comprehensive exhibition 55 years ago at Museum Folkwang, an entire gallery is being devoted to Pierre Soulages, the Master of Abstraction. Pierre Soulages. Le Noir will exhibit three new paintings from 2015, as well as works from the 1950s from the museum’s own collection.

Pierre Soulages (born 1919) has been producing his black paintings since the 1970s. The monumental panels display lines inscribed deeply into the pastose paint surface. The lines and furrows give structure to the large-scale paintings. Horizontally, diagonally or vertically, they break through the black texture, at turns matt and glossy. Soulages calls this radical expansion of pure black “outrenoir” – ultra-black.

The artist tentatively developed his distinctive use of the colour black in his painting. In the 1940s, he began experimenting with walnut stains – le brou de noix – as a painting material. He uses his incomparable black to create a nuanced balance of light, and amplifies it into a powerful gesture. In the early ’80s, Soulages then summed up his investigations in a single sentence: “pour moi, le noir, c’est un excès, une passion” (“for me, black is an excess, a passion”). For the viewer, the interplay between light and black becomes a near-meditative experience.

Pierre Soulages was born in Rodez, in southern France. The works of this influential French contemporary artist have been exhibited across the globe in over 90 museums. In 2014, the Musée Soulages was opened in Rodez, which is dedicated to the life’s work of the 96-year-old artist.

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