Pierre Soulages was a French painter and etcher born in 1919 in Rodez. He started by drawing with black ink and regularly visited artisan workshops. During his enrollment at Saint-Foch, he went to Conques with his class and was impressed by the architecture of the Sainte-Foy abbatiale. He explained « Things that were fraternal to me, the earth, old wood, rocks, wet iron, all these things have impacted me. I have always preferred them to pure materials without life. »
Starting in 1934, he painted daily and in 1938, after obtaining the first part of his baccalaureate he decided to leave Rodez and move to Paris. Soulages signed up to the private studio of René Jaudon to become a drawing professor and earn his life but he pushed him to enter the contest of the Beaux-arts instead. The artist moved to Paris in 1947 and became friends with Picabia and Hartung. He was particularly known for his use of reflections in the color black which he named « outrenoir. » His concentration on one color enabled him to create a space that opposed itself to traditional monochromes. Soulages searched for nuances of grey from the reflection in the texture of the paint. The artist chose abstraction and explained « I do not represent I present. I don’t depict, I paint. »
His first exhibit took place at the Salon des Surindépendants and his first personal exhibition was at the Galerie Lydia Conti. Soulages participated in the Salon de Mai and from 1949 to 1952 made three theater and ballet décors. The artist had also done etchings in the Lacourière studio. Soulages exhibited regularly at the Kootz Gallery (New York) and later on at the Galerie de France (Paris). His incorporation of color in his canvases was done methodically: he would put the color down first, recover the canvas with black, then remove some of the paint for the color to reappear.
In 1953 he participated in the exhibition Younger European Painters at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He was awarded the prize of the São Paulo Biennale. As early as the 50s, his works were acquired by the Phillips Gallery (Washington), the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Tate Gallery (London), the National Museum of Modern Art (Paris), the Museo de Arte Moderna (Rio-de Janeiro), etc…Soulages has had numerous retrospectives worldwide in institutions such as the Kestner-Gesellschaft (Hanovre), the Folkwang Museum, the Kunsthaus of Zurich, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Art Gallery University of Maryland (Washington) amongst others. The inauguration of the Soulages Museum happened in 2014 and contains the largest collection in the world of the artist.