Artist biography

Pierre Soulages born 1919

French abstract painter, engraver, lithographer and designer. Born at Rodez. Impressed as a youth by the prehistoric and Romanesque art of the region, and started to paint. Went to Paris in 1938 to study painting; decided not to enter the Ecole des Beaux-Arts after seeing exhibitions of Cézanne and Picasso, and returned to Rodez. Mobilised in 1940, then worked as a farmer near Montpellier during the German Occupation. Did no painting at this time, but met Sonia Delaunay and began to take an interest in abstract art. Settled in Paris in 1946 and resumed painting; made his first non-figurative works in 1947 with black signs in heavy brushstrokes on a light ground. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Lydia Conti, Paris, 1949. Designed sets and costumes for Roger Vailland's Héloïse et Abélard 1949 and for the ballet. Made his first etchings in 1952. Began c.1955 to paint with looser, slashing brushstrokes, later sometimes with more fluid washes of colour. Awarded one of four equal main prizes for painting at the 1964 Pittsburgh International. Lives in Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.698-9