The Work: Brou de noix sur papier
The Artist: Pierre Soulages

Brou de noix sur papier
32.5 x 24.5 cm, 1949
Walnut stain on paper.
Lot 134,  Sale 4022
Art Contemporain Vente du Jour
June 3-4, 2015 - Paris, France
Price Realized: €79,500 ($89,430 USD)
Estimate: €60,000 - €80,000
($66,846 - $89,128)

Pierre Soulages
Born: December 24 1919, Rodez, Aveyron, France
He is a French painter, engraver, and sculptor.
Soulages also is known as "the painter of black" because of his interest in the colour, "...both a colour and a non-colour. When light is reflected on black, it transforms and transmutes it. It opens up a mental field all of its own". He sees light as a matter to work with; striations of the black surface of his paintings enable him to make the light reflect, allowing the black to come out from darkness and into brightness, thereby becoming a luminous colour.
French abstract painter, engraver, lithographer and designer. Born at Rodez. Impressed as a youth by the prehistoric and Romanesque art of the region, and started to paint. Went to Paris in 1938 to study painting; decided not to enter the Ecole des Beaux-Arts after seeing exhibitions of Cézanne and Picasso, and returned to Rodez. Mobilised in 1940, then worked as a farmer near Montpellier during the German Occupation. Did no painting at this time, but met Sonia Delaunay and began to take an interest in abstract art. Settled in Paris in 1946 and resumed painting; made his first non-figurative works in 1947 with black signs in heavy brushstrokes on a light ground. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Lydia Conti, Paris, 1949. Designed sets and costumes for Roger Vailland's Héloïse et Abélard 1949 and for the ballet. Made his first etchings in 1952. Began c.1955 to paint with looser, slashing brushstrokes, later sometimes with more fluid washes of colour. Awarded one of four equal main prizes for painting at the 1964 Pittsburgh International. Lives in Paris.
Pierre Soulages: Beyond Black
By Deborah Wilk - May 28 2015 -
After 95 years, France’s most successful living artist has some wisdom to impart about the painterly gesture. Deborah Wilk takes a lesson
If art aficionados ever wonder how the work of great Abstract Expressionists whose careers were cut short might have developed had they survived the Postmodern moment, they would do well to consider the work of Pierre Soulages. Carrying the moniker of France’s most successful living artist — whose mid 20th-century paintings can fetch seven-figure prices — Soulages, 95, is a member of a league of nonagenarian artists who have delved so deeply into the well of painting that they have emerged with a conceptual purity that elegantly defies the medium’s inherent mess.
Like the American Marcia Hafif (who is only an honorary member of the club at 86) and the Cuban-born Carmen Herrera (who turns 99 this month), who rarely depart from the minimal, Soulages has mined his project of entirely black compositions in excess of 50 years.
‘He is absolutely extraordinary,’ effuses his New York dealer Dominique Levy , who hung the artist’s first US show in 10 years at her eponymous Uptown gallery, in tandem with Emmanuel Perrotin, last year. ‘He’s followed one journey all his life, which has led him more and more toward the light. Despite the fact that they are black, the paintings are all about capturing the light,’ she says.
But before Soulages reached his current investigations of what he calls ‘outrénoir’, or ‘beyond black’, he began with the gesture. As Abstract Expressionism exploded from the New York scene across the globe to spawn movements such as Gutai in Japan and Danseakhwa in Korea, Soulages, whose early work anticipated the genre, was one of a group of Post-war Europeans who fully embraced the movement, enjoying recognition beyond his native France. ‘Post-war European art was at a height in the 1950s, and Soulages was at the centre of that moment,’ says Kemper Museum of Art associate curator Karen T. Butler. ‘His early works flaunt his interest in materiality and mark making. That is also reflected in his titles, which tell you what it is: the kind of painting, dimensions, and the date. They are not symbolic.’

Peinture 195 x 155 cm,
7 février 1957
Pierre Soulages
Lot: 15 , Sale: 1510
Price Realized: £3,666,500 ($6,086,390)
Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction
February 14 2014, London, King Street

    Mr. Soulages dates the discovery of “outrenoir” to 1979. Before, black was a constant presence in his paintings as an “element of contrast” with other colors. The compositions, sometimes made with walnut stain, often featured thick, calligraphic strokes against lighter backgrounds. Then, one day, he was furiously working on a painting, and “everything became black.”
    “I thought it was bad. But I continued working on it for two or three hours because, I felt that it would become somehow stronger if I kept working on it. Eventually I went to sleep, and a few hours later I looked at what I had done,” he said. “I was no longer working in black but working with the light reflected by the surface of the black. The light was dynamized by the strokes of paint. It was another world.”

Below: The Museum dedicated to Pierre Soulages