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Pierre Soulages


April 13 - June 23, 2018
Opening : Friday, April 13, 2018, 6 - 8 p.m.
Opening address by Alfred Pacquement, directeur honoraire. Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
For 20 years, Pierre Soulages has been represented in his home country exclusively by Karsten Greve. Now Greve is devoting a solo exhibition to the 98-year-old artist for the first time in his gallery in Cologne.
Pierre Soulages, who lives in Sète and Paris, is France’s most important artist. He is known as a master of abstraction and a painter of black and of light, an exceptional artist whose œuvre has extended over a remarkable seven decades. The current exhibition presents major works from 1997 to 2016, all of which Karsten Greve has acquired directly from the artist.
Soulages first exhibited in France in 1946. Just two years later, the work of the young artist was discovered in Germany. Participation in the seminal group exhibition ‘French Abstract Painting’ conceived by the patron of the arts Otto Domnick in 1948, which was shown in seven German cities, was Soulages’ first exhibition abroad. It redefined modern art after the Second World War and was very well received. In the same year, James Johnson Sweeney, former curator of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and later director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, became aware of the artist. The international recognition accorded to his abstract-gestural canvases from this creative period is also reflected in his three appearances at documenta: I (1955), II (1959) and III (1964) – an exceptional distinction for any artist.
A highlight of his extensive international exhibition activity was the retrospective held by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 2009 in honour of the artist’s 90th birthday. Today, his works are featured in the collections of more than 300 international museums, including the MoMA in New York, the Tate in London and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. In 2014, the Musée Soulages opened in his hometown of Rodez.
From the beginning, the titles of his works have been made up of the word peinture together with the dimensions and the exact dating of the respective work. Since 1979, the artist has been concerned exclusively with the Outrenoirs, as Soulages calls his mostly monochrome paintings that ‘go beyond black’. With special tools, brushes, rollers and spatulas which he makes himself, he applies different layers of paint. From the resulting mass, Pierre Soulages creates smooth surfaces and deep furrows, as well as matt and glossy areas. The relief-like surface begins to shine and shimmer as a result of the refraction of light. On closer examination, it is possible to perceive the entire colour spectrum – in a monochrome black painting.
We are pleased to present selected works from the Outrenoirs in the upcoming exhibition, which is based on a personal selection by the artist and his gallerist, who are linked by a long-standing friendship.
The talk at the exhibition preview will be given by Alfred Pacquement, directeur honoraire. Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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