Pierre Soulages - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, June 26, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Marwan Hoss, Paris (acquired in 1981)
    Galerie Benador, Paris (acquired in 1989)
    Private Collection, Paris (acquired from the above)
    Sotheby's, Paris, 7 December 2011, lot 3
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Århus, Kunstbygning; Esbjerg, Kunstpavillon; Copenhagen, Charlottenborg, Soulages, 4 September – 16 December 1982 (illustrated)
    Hamburg, Deichtorhallen, Pierre Soulages, Malerei als Farbe und Licht, Rétrospective 1946 - 1997, 16 May – 18 August 1997

  • Literature

    Pierre Encrevé, Soulages L'Oeuvre complet, Peintures, vol III. 1979-1997, Paris, 1994, p. 76, no. 806 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1980, during the early stages of Pierre Soulages Outrenoir’ works, Peinture 130 x 102 cm, 14 Octobre 1980 is exemplary of his experimentative series. Thick, textural layers of black paint consume the entirety of the canvas, the directional impressions and undulations of impasto presenting a sculptural surface upon which the ridges and ruts reflect the light. The artist’s sculptural composition reveals an iridescent luminosity, akin to a window glistening in the sun. Soulages' monolithic works, built up with an array of industrial tools, are titled in accordance with his strict, methodical formula: Peinture, measurement, date.

    During an epiphany in 1979, Soulages realised he was ‘no longer working with black, but with the material of black’ (Pierre Soulages, quoted by Barbara Anastacio, ‘Pierre Soulage Outrenoir’, in Nowness, 25 January, 2015, online) and began his self-titled body of Outrenoir works. Exploring the varied qualities of black, reliant on numerous elements including the thickness, application and texture of paint as well as the viewing conditions, Soulages' Outrenoir works continue to define his artistic output. Outrenoir is a portmanteau translating as ‘beyond black’, elaborating on his choice of terminology in a 2014 interview, Soulages stated, ‘In French, you say outre-Manche, (beyond the Channel), to mean England, or outre-Rhine (beyond the Rhine), to mean Germany. In other words, ‘beyond black’ is a different country from black’ (Pierre Soulages, quoted in ‘Pierre Soulages: Interview by Z. Stillpass,’ in Interview Magazine, May 2014).

    Soulages’ heavy and decisive paint application enables him to masterfully dictate areas of illumination. ‘When I realised that light can emanate from the colour which has the biggest absence of light, I was both perturbed and profoundly moved. From that moment my eye changed and I’ve worked in this way ever since’ (Pierre Soulages, quoted in Tobias Grey, ‘Pierre Soulages and his all-black canvases’, in Financial Times, 9 October, 2009, online). Similarly to his commission in 1986 to create stained glass windows for the Romanesque Abbey-Church Sainte-Foy in Conques, France, the present work emphasises the artist’s refined ability to manipulate light. At Sainte-Foy, expertly arranging sunlight, Soulages crafted his own translucent, non-transparent glass which emits luminescence through its texture. The modulation of light through the windows, with the dual sided nature of the arrangement, reflects the architectonic depth and texture of his Outrenoir works and the present composition.

    Soulages became transfixed by the transient nature of light which emanates from his striated, mono-pigmented paintings, and in 1979, it was to become his most invaluable production tool, used to guide and direct his gestural strokes. Peinture 130 x 102 cm, 14 Octobre 1980, encapsulates the conceptual juxtaposition of Soulages’ Outrenoir series. With no one single vantage point, the aggression of the bold, black bands dragged across the canvas are immediately softened by elegant streaks of grey and white light, inviting the viewer to explore the infinite ways in which to experience the dynamic movement of the reflection through changes in perspective. With each of his Outre’noir canvases reacting uniquely to the interplay of light and the position of the viewer, Soulages reflects ‘I made these [paintings] because I found that the light reflected by the black surface elicits certain emotions in me.’ Confirming the importance of his choice of tone, the artist acknowledges the depth of his compositions ‘aren’t monochromes. The fact that light can come from the colour which is supposedly the absence of light is already quite moving, and it is interesting to see how this happens’ (Pierre Soulages, quoted in ‘Pierre Soulages: Interview by Z. Stillpass,’ in Interview Magazine, May 2014).

    Soulages’ experimentation with the colour black is not dissimilar to the series of black abstract works by Ad Reinhardt in which the observer is encouraged to explore the depth of the composition, discovering the subtle yet crucial variations of black within the painting. Whilst Soulages had befriended many of his American and European Abstract Art contemporaries, and is often associated with a multitude of artistic movements, such as Art Informel and Tachisme, he rejects labels in order to live and work without the conformity of boundaries.

    Sourcing inspiration from prehistoric art, Soulages refers to his own experiences of the 20,000 year-old Lascaux cave paintings, and the older cave paintings at Chauvet, in order to explain his spiritual and primordial fixation with black. ‘I find it fascinating that man went…into the total blackness of the caves to paint down there with black. The colour black is the original colour and the colour of our origin’ (Pierre Soulages, quoted in Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘An Interview with Pierre Soulages’, Perrotin, online). Presenting the viewer with troughs of textural, calligraphic strokes, the artist’s dense composition is exemplary of Soulages’ painterly and sculptural vision. The mystic, palpable quality of Peinture 130 x 102 cm, 14 Octobre 1980 - prompted by the interactive relationship between the canvas, the light and the viewer - allows for an individualistic, emotional experience, rooted in the transient abyss of the painting and the luminesce of the monochrome.

Property from an Important Northern European Collection


Peinture 130 x 102 cm, 14 octobre 1980

signed, titled, dedicated and dated 'SOULAGES, "Peinture 130 x 102 cm 14 OCT. 1980" Pour Marwan, Pierre' on the reverse
oil on canvas
130 x 102 cm (51 3/8 x 40 3/8 in.)
Painted on 14 October 1980.

£300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for £441,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2018