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Pierre Soulages French

Not on view

Peinture is an early, powerful example of Soulages’s characteristic idiom of abstraction, which has often been compared to the gestural technique and style of Franz Kline. This dark and dramatic composition primarily comprises wide black strokes of paint, most running vertically and horizontally across the canvas. They sit emphatically on its surface and overlap with others, forming a strong, if somewhat irregular grid. Smaller, brushier areas of off-white and orange-red throughout the composition offer punctuating visual accents and create a foreboding atmosphere. Normally working on a much larger scale like his New York School contemporaries, Soulages subsequently narrowed his palette exclusively to black—he is popularly known today as "the master of black"—and began to consider the light reflected by his painted surfaces as a key element in his practice.

Soulages offered Peinture as a gift to prominent New York gallery owner and author Samuel Kootz, who promoted many established European and emerging American artists, including Romare Bearden, Robert Motherwell, and Pablo Picasso, among others. Kootz organized an exhibition of the artist’s work at his gallery in 1956, so the painting, which the artist inscribed on the back with affection to Kootz and his wife, Jane, functioned, in part, as a token of his gratitude for the opportunity.

Peinture, Pierre Soulages (French, Rodez 1919–2022 Nîmes), Oil on canvas

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