Pierre Soulages (French, b.1919), a leading member of Art Informel and European Abstract Expressionist movements, was inspired by painters such as Pablo Picasso and Paul Cézanne early in his life. Soulages was born in Rodez, France, and traveled to Paris at the age of 18 to get to know the art scene. He visited Montpellier’s School of Fine Arts while called to military service in the city in 1941. After World War II, Soulages returned to Paris, where he was able to fully concentrate on painting, and soon became known as a representative of the European movement of Abstract Expressionism.

He created compositions of black bars in front of a white ground, influenced by East Asian calligraphy, which Soulages learned about while traveling in Japan. His work is also influenced by Romanesque architecture and Celtic monuments from his home region. A turning point in his career is marked by his Outrenoir series of black monochromatic paintings, which he began in 1979. Soulages has exhibited his work at the documenta shows in Kassel, Germany since the 1950s and 1960s, and has held several retrospectives throughout Europe. In 1994, he received the Praemium Imperiale Prize in Japan. Soulages currently lives in Paris and Sète, in southern France; his most recent exhibitions include a large-scale retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, celebrating his 90th birthday.

Timeline

1919
Born in Rodez, France (December 24th)
1949–1952
Designed stage sets
1976
Recipient, the Rembrandt Award
1984
Recipient, the Praemium Imperiale
1987
Recipient, the Great National Award for Painting
Lives and works in Paris and Sète

Exhibitions

2013
XXI Century, Villa Medicis, Rome, Italy
2010–2011
Pierre Soulages, Berliner Festspiele. Eine Ausstellung des Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris. Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (solo)
2009
Pierre Soulages, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
2009
Drawings and selected Prints, Galerie Boisserée, Cologne, Germany
2009
Soulages. Le temps du papier, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, France
2007
Inauguration of the Soulages room at the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France
2007
Pierre Soulages, Institut Valencià d’Art Moderne, Valencia, Spain
2006
Pierre Soulages. Painting the Light, Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg, Austria
2006
Estampes de Pierre Soulages, Salle d’exposition Carmel, Tarbes, France
2006
Pierre Soulages. Die Farbe Schwarz, das Licht , die Malerei, Westfälisches Landesmuseum Münster für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Munster, Germany
2005
Museé Ordrupgaard, Kopenhagen, Charlottenlund, Denmark
2005
Pierre Soulages: American Selections, Trumball Museum, Ohio, USA
2005
Outrenoir, recent paintings, Robert Miller Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Works on paper, Haim Chanin Fine Arts, New York, NY (solo)
2003
Soulages. L'oeuvre imprimé, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France (solo)
2002
Eaux-fortes et bronzes, Musée Rignault, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, France (solo)
2001
Musée de l'Ermitage, Saint-Petersburg (solo)
Nouvelle Galerie Tretiakov, Moscow (solo)
2000
Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne (peintures 1999-2000) (solo)
Les Abattoirs, Toulouse (solo)
1999
Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland (rétrospective) (solo)
Galerie Rieder, Munich, Germany (solo)
Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France (oeuvres récentes 1994-1999) (solo)
1976
Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela (rétrospective) (solo)
Museo, Maracaïbo, Venezuela (rétrospective) (solo)
Fundaçao Cultural, Brasilia, Brazil (rétrospective) –solo
Museu da Universidad, Sao Paulo, Brazil (rétrospective) (solo)
Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (rétrospective) (solo)
Musée d'Art et d'Industrie, Saint-Etienne, France (rétrospective) (solo)
1968
Comité d'établissement du Crédit Lyonnais, Paris (solo)
Knoedler Gallery, New York, NY (paintings since 1963) (solo)
Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA (paintings since 1963) (solo)
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA (paintings since 1963) (solo)
Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal, Canada (rétrospective) (solo)
Musée du Quebec, Quebec, Canada (rétrospective) (solo)
1949
Galerie Lydia Conti, Paris, France (solo)