Like Picasso and Chagall, the Louvre Museum exhibits Pierre Soulages.
Until now, only Picasso and Chagall had this privilege for their 90 years. If few artists have had the honors of the institution during their lifetime, they are even fewer to have a career spanning eight decades and an obsession declining ad infinitum.
Rather than a large retrospective bringing together a hundred works like at the Center Pompidou, ten years ago, the Louvre focused on around twenty paintings by the master, considered to be the greatest living French artist.
It is a meticulous choice for this tribute to Soulages, exhibition until March 9, 2020. Works are on loan from around the world (Tate in London, Guggenheim in New York, Soulages museum in Rodez ...), a sign of recognition of his talent on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
The idea is to see how the work of this painter, very early attracted by the black, develops and transforms, underlines Alfred Pacquement, curator of the exhibition with Pierre Encrevé, great specialist of the painter, deceased at the beginning year.
From the walnut husk from his beginnings in the 1940s to tar, a material usually little appreciated by artists, in oil, then in acrylic paint, which he uses exclusively since 2004.
Unsurprisingly, a large part of the exhibition is devoted to the "outrenoir" this universe imagined by Soulages in 1979 when he took the turn of complete black, focusing on contrast, between smooth and streaks, matt and shiny and, of course, black and light.
The visitor is invited to gravitate around the works, to grasp the nuances, see the gray appear, or blend into the material.
The Louvre gave him a backdrop, in this case, the Salon Carré, a few steps from La Victoire de Samothrace lit by a glass roof that brings in light.
The Salon Carré is a place where Italian painting before the Renaissance is usually found, notably La Maestà de Cimabue, a huge painting in every sense of the word. We pick up all this, these most prestigious paintings "to put mine, marveled Soulages recently in an interview with Le Monde.
Installed for years in Sète, with his wife Colette, the painter traveled to Paris to ensure the hanging of the works and will return for the inauguration. "He saw it as an important moment in the dissemination of his work," confirms, moved, Mr. Pacquement, who has been around him for many years.