Peinture, 19 Novembre 1951

Pierre Soulages

Pierre Soulages' early works, those of the late 1940s and early 1950s, employ dynamic, gestural strokes to describe linear, almost calligraphic patterns in rich impasto upon their surfaces. From the beginning, the presence of black in Soulages' work, either as a linear device or as an overall concern, is clearly a key element.

Soulages recalls a visit at the age of 12 to the church of Sainte-Foy de Conques in France, where he experienced a "live" blackness in the church's dark interior: he credits this encounter as the source of his decision to become a painter.

In works of this period, Soulages took the natural architecture of bare winter trees as his source material. Soulages regarded these as a form of abstract sculpture, and this starting point served him well as a vehicle for the exploration of structure and variation. In the present work, Soulages combines black with the controlled addition of red and white to create an abstract composition which he clearly regarded as a great success, choosing the image as the basis for Etching No.2, of 1952, of which there is a copy in the Tate, London.

Pierre Soulages (b.1919)
Peinture, 19 Novembre 1951
Oil on canvas
38.1 x 54.9 cm : 15 x 21 5/8 in.
Signed and dated lower right
Galerie Louis Carré, Paris; Gimpel Fils, London; Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd, London; Waddington Galleries, London; Artcurial, Paris, 1988; Galerie Pucelko, Bonn; Salle des Ventes, Versailles, 24 / 06 / 1990; Galerie Prazan-Fitoussi, Paris; Private Collection, France
1952, Peintres de la Nouvelle Ecole de Paris, Galerie de Babylone, Paris; 1952, Galerie Louis Carré, Paris
Pierre Encrevé, Pierre Soulages, no. 89
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