What art movement was the painter Pierre Soulages associated with?

Pierre Soulages was one of the pioneers of the Lyrical Abstraction movement, alongside Hans Hartung and Gérard Schneider.

Soulages dedicated himself fully to painting from 1946 onwards, when he began creating his first abstract works: inks, paintings made using walnut stain and charcoal drawings. In 1948, the French artist moved his studio to Paris’ Montparnasse neighbourhood. Featured in the third Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in the same year, his work was discovered by O. Domnick, who was working on preparations for the Französischer abstrakter Malerei exhibition at the time. The first exhibition of abstract art to be held in Germany since the end of the war, the show was a milestone in art history. The landmark event was a touring exhibition that travelled around Germany. The works of the young artist Pierre Soulages—who was not yet 30 years old—were exhibited alongside those of the pioneers of abstraction, including Hans Hartung, Auguste Herbin, František Kupka, Jean Piaubert and Gérard Schneider, among others. In 1955, Soulages’ paintings began to evolve in the way they were executed, featuring a more heavily painted and denser style. Discussing his approach, the artist explained: “I like textures that change, time trapped by textures.” Soulages’ work evolved once more in the 1960s, as black paint invaded the entire surface of the canvas. Soulages still used a few colours such as black and blue, but his palette remained very limited. In 1979, a solo exhibition dedicated to Soulages’ work was presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, featuring single-pigment works created to demonstrate the different reflections of light on black surfaces—these were the artist’s “outrenoir” [beyond black] works. Soulages’ works were constructed with a very thick pictorial layer that would reflect or absorb the light.

Please visit the painter Pierre Soulages’ dedicated page or the page on Lyrical Abstraction to learn more about this art movement.

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