The Museum Soulages Rodez, Aveyron, was a success in the region. It welcomes its real popular enthusiasm, the stature of the artist, on the land where he was born, December 24, 1919. For the anniversary day of his 99 years, on Monday, 24 December 2018, he received Le Figaro in his studio black and white of Sète and keeps all its about to talk about our changing times, its long history, painting, and of his adventures (interview to read exclusively in Le Figaro Premium ).

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Benoît Decron, director of the Musée Soulages, deciphers for us the success of an artist in the form of national monument and its museum, which celebrates necessarily his birthday, a year before its centenary, by an exhibition of his works on paper.

Pierre Soulages, on the eve of his 99 years, in his studio in Sète. Photo François Bouchon / Le Figaro. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro

Until march 31, the museum Soulages presents a whole of 118 “paintings on paper”, walnut, gouache, inks, a few charcoals (100 of the permanent collection and 18 deposits of the painter). Of varying dimensions, resulting in the major part of the donation outstanding of Pierre and Colette Soulages, which were recently repackaged in preventive conservation and framed according to new technologies in the framework of a sponsorship “of great consequence” of the BNP Paribas Foundation. The works are “now fully protected, so easier to swap and lend, notably in our international trade”. In this year of commemorations, this provision is of paramount importance.

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In addition, in the temporary exhibition hall, the papers are accompanied by a selection of photographs and films on the artist as well as a documentation space with the latest enhancements of the museum (acquisition, donations, deposits) ; documents, books and photographs jointly carried out by the community and the society of the friends of the musée Soulages.

Views of the exhibition “Pierre Soulages, and works on paper – An overview”, in Rodez, the musée Soulages, December 4, 2018 march 31, 2019 © Photothèque de Rodez agglomeration / Photo: Cedric Méraville Museum Soulages A crazy project

“The Museum Soulages is open to the public since may 30, 2014. We, at the end of 2018, passed the bar of the 800,000 visitors and we hope to close in on 950.000 at the end of the period of the commemoration of the “century Soulages,” stresses the historian of art, as energetic as a volunteer, and who tempers his seriousness by a humour-quite rock’n’roll.

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“We avoisinons the 140.000 visitors per year. They also come to the temporary exhibitions, as defined from the outset, the project of the Musée Soulages in wanting to escape in any case. An exhibition, “Picasso”, it is the 96,000 visitors. An exhibition, “Calder”, this is 92,000 toö visitors in the summer. An exhibition “Jesus Rafael Soto” or “Le Corbusier” , it is 35.000 visitors in these seasons more quiet that is spring or winter, from December to may. It is much to the town of Rodez, which has 25,000 inhabitants,” he says. “The musée Soulages is the second in Occitania, in terms of attendance, after the Fabre museum of Montpellier. If I stabilize the annual attendance on a low average of 125,000 visitors, taking the pace of the display and the renewal of the permanent collections and offering temporary exhibitions of high quality to maintain both the curiosity, the desire and the pace, I’ll feel satisfied,” this director is atypical.

He shows us and explains to us, in familiar of the work, the 5 key moments of the exhibition.

Pierre Soulages, walnut Stain and oil on paper, 74 x 47,5 cm, 1947. Donation by Pierre and Colette Soulages © musée Soulages, Rodez / Photo: Christian Bousquet, © musée Soulages, Rodez / Photo : Christian Bousquet

“walnut”, 1947

“The work on paper, walnut, 1947, is the paper’s most well known Soulages.

The walnut stain that he knows in the workshops of cabinet-makers of the rue Combarel Rodez is used as a material, passed to the large brush, spalter, spread or crushed with a knife and removed with the same tool, in order to clarify the composition.

The first reports of radical white and black, the virginity of the paper and its depth, a darkness like a black cave’. Shades harsh and warm.

When Soulages speaks of the walnut, he said, “everything comes from there”.

The paintings on paper will contribute to the reputation in Europe of Pierre Soulages.

In 1949, he exhibited for the first time in New York”.

● “Painting”, 1958

“From Painting of 1958, Soulages works in the background with the brush. Traces of white streaked with black, the hairs of the brush, any apparent. It floats on the surface of the fill of the shapes with black brickwork to the squeegee or trowel: in all cases, the black is collected in containers, from simple bowls.

Nothing is hidden, the bars of black zébrant the composition are determined by borders of dark matter found. This is a major work of the museum”.

Pierre Soulages, “Peinture 162 x 114 cm, August 27, 1958”. Oil on canvas. Donation by Pierre and Colette Soulages © musée Soulages, Rodez / Photo: Vincent Cunillère Museum Soulages

● “Polyptych Outrenoir, 1986

“Polyptych Outrenoir 1986, it is a work that is almost a foretaste of the stained glass windows of Conques (1986-1994) with forms rising. To do this, four frames are superimposed.

Soulages invented the Outrenoir in January 1979, occupying the surface of the table with black wrought tool, exclusively. Blacks who are of a different nature, rough or smooth, shiny or matte.

The Outrenoir, it is beyond of the black. So these are paintings relating to the values of geography in the pictorial, but also those of the displacement of the spectator.

The light hits the surface of the black from the table and back towards the spectator, wearing all the colors of the spectrum.

Since 1979, Soulages has painted more than 1700 Outrenoir s.

Attention! l ‘Outrenoir is monopigmentaire and non-mono: there, within, out of the accident and of the accident”.

Pierre Soulages, “Peinture 324 x 362 cm, 1986”. Polyptych (4 items 81 x 362 cm, bunk). Oil on canvas. Donation by Pierre and Colette Soulages © musée Soulages, Rodez / Photo: Vincent Cunillère © musée Soulages, Rodez / Photo : Vincent Cunilera

Painting calligraphy, 1970

Painting 202 x 237 cm, 17 janvier 1970 is a monumental work, and radical, from the famous exhibition of Soulages in 1972, at the galerie de France.

This is a writing almost calligraphic plated on a surface that is rigorously white. Work on the ground (full and unbound. Nothing, especially nothing of sign language.

This work is in response to the various trips of Soulages in Japan and his determination to transmute his art, to simplify it by going with black and white. More colors, other than black and white. This time sees the young artists of the “Supports / Surfaces” intersect Soulages.

We can read the painting from left to right, like an echo, as a complex sign, like writing, is exhausting from the edge to the other of the canvas”.

Pierre Soulages, “Peinture 202 x 237 cm, 17 January 1970”. Oil on canvas. Filing of the painter at the musée Soulages © musée Soulages, Rodez / Photo: Thierry Estadieu THIERRY ESTADIEU

● cartons des vitraux de Conques

“The Hall of Conques is a tribute to Soulages, which was prepared on cardboard boxes, plates in melamine prepared with their exact contour, 104 windows of the abbey. The glass of Conques is a glass-living, translucent and non-transparent. It is almost body with the architecture, according to Soulages, not this design, no story, especially not the color… The glass is opaque and non-transparent. Around 600,000 visitors a year go to Conques to see the confrontation of the heritage and contemporary art”.

The workshop Sète and its chassis stacked, future major formats of the master of the “Outrenoirs”. Photo François Bouchon / Le Figaro. Francois Cap/François Bouchon / Le Figaro