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Pierre Soulages Biography

Pierre Soulages, ‘the painter of black and light’, is widely recognised as one of the major figures of abstraction and the greatest painter in France today. He was born in 1919 in Rodez. As a child, he was attracted to drawing, Romanesque art and rock paintings.

He was destined to teach painting, but refused to return to the Beaux-Arts where he was ‘horrified’ (in his own words) by the education he received there. In 1947, he exhibited his paintings at the Salon des Surindépendants and began to make himself known as an abstract painter.

By 1950, major international museums bought and exhibited his works. It is in 1979 that he discovered what he calls the ‘outrenoir’, that is to say, the reflection of the light from the surface of black, the only colour that does not let the light pass. By focusing on one colour, black, and its relation to the light, he conceived a pictorial space which is anything but monochromatic or dull.

Between 1987 and 1994, he created 104 stained glass windows (vitreaux) for the Abbey of Conques. In 2014, the Soulages Museum was inaugurate in his hometown, where the artist has gifted 500 works and documents for display.

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