"... it is what I do that teaches me what I am looking for ..." Pierre Soulages, 1953
And sixty years later, he continues to do, learn, and search. At 94, Pierre Soulages still paints everyday at his studio in Paris, in the Latin Quarter. His words and practice are inspirational.
Recently, a show of his work, both current and from the post-war (that's WWII) period, closed at the Dominique Levy and Emmanuel Perrotin Galleries in Manhattan. All of it -- the paintings, the way many were suspended from the ceilings, the ability to walk around the pieces and see the backs as well as fronts of canvases, the gorgeous building that houses both galleries on several floors, the impossibly thick and gloriously printed large announcement card for the exhibition -- created the most elegant gallery show I have seen in a long time. Soulages has been called the "Master of black," and the newest work showed why. These were thickly, I mean thickly, painted black canvases on which it seemed he had slathered and raked the paint. Magical is the way light reflects off of his painting strokes. Soulages makes light with his brush. Soon, a museum, the Musee Soulages, with at least 500 of his paintings will open in Rodez, his birthplace in the south of France. How nice it would be to visit there.
On the internet, copyright issues prevent me from downloading images that reflect the power of Soulages work. But let google take you on your own tour of what the web has to offer.
Here, instead, are two photographs that I took last summer in Paris. Two lithographs by Soulages displayed in the window of a charming print shop in the 6th arrondisement stopped us in our tracks. These are two shots of what David and I saw. Of course, they don't do justice to Soulages. I am contending with the glass of the shop's window and the glass the protects the lithograph. The reflection that you see if you look really hard is of me. Talk about being drawn into a piece of art! But that is okay, this is indeed art one could dwell in for a long time. He may be known as the master of black, but Soulages also does very well with blue.