Pierre Soulages - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, April 16, 2021 | Phillips
  • 'Black ink was always my favourite. I loved it. And then one day I realised that the only thing I ever wanted to do was to paint. I realised that most people waste their lives earning a living, and I wanted to live. I love painting, so I keep painting. That’s how I became an artist.'
    —Pierre Soulages

    Executed in 2004, Pierre Soulages’ Brou de noix sur papier 75, 2 X 108 cm, 2004 exemplifies the artist’s use of walnut stain on paper, displaying vertical monochromatic block colours. This simple yet strong pattern makes a bold statement alternating gradual hues of darkness and light. In the present work, Soulages covers the surface with thin layers of walnut stain, heightening the artistic process of craftsmanship. Well known as the painter of black, he was inspired as a child to prehistoric menhirs found on the Abbey Church of Sainte-Foy in his hometown of Rodez, Aveyron. His creativity manifested in his early years as he painted winter trees in black on a brown background, shaping branches to suggest movement in space. The brown, black and white of Brou de noix sur papier 75, 2 X 108 cm, 2004 is reminiscent of the branches and trunks of trees which served as canvas to the artist as a child. Different from his signature style of Outrenoir where the opaque and saturated black paint create a sense of endless depth, Brou de noix sur papier 75, 2 X 108 cm, 2004 refers to the expression of Soulages’ younger self.

    Spanning a long and fruitful career dating back to the post-war era, Soulages would take the world by storm in the 1950s expanding his exposure from Paris across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. Following his first solo exhibition in 1949 at Galerie Lydia Conti in Paris, he was included in multiple group exhibitions, with his works juxtaposed against the likes of Franz Kline, championed by Leo Castelli in New York. Primed during the height of Abstract Expressionism, Soulages’ body of work was accepted as a familiar yet fresh visual representation. Notable retrospectives throughout the years include exhibitions at the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, at the Museum Folkwang, Essen and at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. It was then he suspended his paintings back to back from cables attached to the ceiling so they could be experienced through free floating space. Brou de noix sur papier 75, 2 X 108 cm, 2004 is a culmination of his interested in darkness, light and space. This work was executed at the height of his career, soon after Soulages, as the first living artist, received a full-scale survey at the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg in 2001. 

    • Provenance

      Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London
      Dominique Lévy, New York
      Haim Chanin Fine Arts, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Pierre Soulages: New Paintings, 24 June - 1 September 2010


Brou de noix sur papier 75, 2 X 108 cm, 2004

signed 'Soulages' lower right
walnut stain on paper mounted on linen
75.2 x 108 cm (29 5/8 x 42 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2004.

Full Cataloguing

£150,000 - 200,000 ‡♠

Sold for £239,400

Contact Specialist


Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

+ 44 20 7318 4065



20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 16 April 2021