Lot 15
  • 15

Pierre Soulages

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 EUR
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Pierre Soulages
  • Peinture 65 x 92 cm, 26 octobre 1961
  • signed; signed and dated 26-10-61 on the reverse 
  • oil on canvas
  • 65 x 92 cm; 25 9/16 x 36 1/4 in.
  • Executed in 1961.


Galerie de France, Paris
Paul Gmuer Collection, Zurich (acquired from the above in April 1964)
Sale: Sotheby's London, Contemporary Art, Part I, 2 December 1993, lot 2
Private Collection, Paris
Galerie Applicat-Prazan, Paris
Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1996)


Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Soulages malerier og raderinger, 1 January - 31 December 1963, no. 35
Zurich, Kunsthaus Zurich, 1968, no. 49


Pierre Encrevé, Soulages, L'Oeuvre Complet, Peintures Volume II, 1959-1978, Paris, 1994, p. 94, no. 481, illustrated in colour


The colours are fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration although the overall tonality is deeper. The work is executed on its original canvas and not relined. Under close inspection, three tiny dents are visible in the upper left quadrant on the thick black impasto, together with one small dent on the black impasto in the upper right quadrant. Under Ultra Violet inspection, one small retouching is visible at the extremity of the upper right corner and along the upper edge near the rim. This work is in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

A major painting from the beginning of the 1960s, Peinture 65 x 92 cm, 26 octobre 1961 is indicative of the essential change that took place in Pierre Soulages’ work at a time when he established himself as one of the leading painters of his generation, not only in Europe but also in the United States, where the famous Sam Kootz Gallery gave him a retrospective exhibition at the beginning of the month of October, just as Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning or Robert Motherwell at the same period. This remarkable composition fully expresses the skill with which Soulages structures voids and reliefs, conjuring up the flame in unexpected places, full of nuance, where the relatively hieratic signs of the 1940s and 1950s give way to freer forms. The now liberated motif stands out from the background, creating an unprecedented transparency. As the French director of the Musée national d’art moderne Jean Leymarie describes in an article published in Art International at the beginning of the 1960s, “the old vertical schemas on taut bases give way to often transversal , more complex and airy groups (…). Black beforehand was the central generator to which colour served as a counterbalance. It now becomes an active and dynamic actor, opening out in rays, emanation, phosphorescence. The hand, deliberately rebellious to contour and to all graphic line, places large continuous and rhythmical  strokes which create their own time and space, and the same movement which feeds into colour, brusquely removes it, so that rips follow flows.”

In October 1961, a new wind breathed through the artist’s works, with his recent installation in the Sète studio which he designed himself. Perched on the south side of the Mont Saint-Clair, it overlooked the sea and was located amidst the Mediterranean vegetation specific to the region. During the summer, the sun did not enter, but during the winter it bathed all the rooms. This inspirational setting was doubtless behind the tension between the play of light, volume, space and time that can be clearly found in Peinture 65 x 92 cm, 26 octobre 1961. Form is linked here to colour and to matter and adds an unprecedented dimension to Soulages’s painting which will continue in this direction from now on. The amber tones, almost golden brown in the background,  reinforce a little more the mystery that hovers over this major composition which was presented at the Galerie de France before joining a prestigious Zurich collection and being exhibited in several important international museums such as the Kunsthaus in Zürich.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.