I t is rare to encounter such a comprehensive collection as the one assembled by Fernand Rambaud around the masters of the School of Paris. This collection invites us to discover the finest works of this period, with paintings by Pierre Soulages, Zao Wou-Ki, Hans Hartung and Joan Mirò. The group of works pays tribute to the taste of a man who was passionate, free and confident in his aesthetic choices.
Fernand Rambaud (1926-2017) assembled a collection in his own image: selective and eclectic. Initially a collector of African art, he eventually turned his attention to post-war art, gathering a group of remarkable works over a period of twenty years.
From the 1990s onwards, he devoted himself to his contemporary art collection, staying faithful to his first loves: Pierre Soulages, Zao Wou-Ki and Joan Mirò, as well as supporting younger less-established artists. Accompanied throughout his journey by his wife, Fernand Rambaud never tired of acquiring exceptional works, informed by his exacting intuition, mainly from Parisian galleries. His entrepreneurial nature and open-mindedness allowed him to build up a major collection of post-war art over the course of twenty years.
Tour the Exhibition
“In my painting, dominated by [black] from my childhood up to now, I can objectively distinguish three ways of black, three different fields of action: Black on the ground, a stronger contrast than that with any other colour to illuminate the light parts of the ground; [Black associated with] colours, first hidden by the black, then in places seeping out from the canvas, exalted by the surrounding black; The textural black (with or without a sense of direction, energising the surface or not): the material is a matrix with changing reflections.”
1919Birth of Pierre Soulages on December 24th in Rodez. (Image: Pierre Soulages as a child in Aveyron © All Rights Reserved)
1932Discovery of the Roman abbey church Sainte-Foy de Conques during a class visit. "It was she who gave me the decisive shock" he would later say.
1941Montpellier where he frequently visits the Fabre Museum and enrolls at the School of Fine Arts where he meets Colette Llaurens, whom he will marry that same year.
1946Settles in a workshop in Courbevoie, near Paris. The works he sends to the Salon d'Automne are refused.
1947Beginning of his long friendship with Roberta Gonzales and Hans Hartung, whom he meets at the Salon des Surindépendants, a salon without jury or prizes where his works are exhibited. Mocked by the critics, Francis Picabia notices him, however, convinced that one of his works is the "best painting in the Salon". Settles in a new studio rue Schoelcher, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris
1948Meets Jean-Michel Atlan, Fred Klein and his son Yves. The famous curator of the Museum of Modern Art James Johnson Sweeney visits his studio and buys a painting from him.
1951The French state acquires the work Peinture 146 x 114 cm, 1950. Louis Carré becomes his agent abroad.
1953Participation in the Younger American Painters exhibition organized by Pat Sweeney at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
1954First solo exhibition in New York at the gallery of Samuel Kootz, who will soon become his agent in the United-States, devoting 8 exhibitions to him until 1966. Nelson Rockefeller and Alfred H. Barr visit his studio.
1955Participation in the first Documenta in Kassel and in the exhibition The New Decade at MoMA. The Gimpel Fils gallery devotes him in London his first solo show in London. This is the beginning of a collaboration that will last more than 20 years.
1965Soulages meets the new Director of the Musée d’Art Moderne, Bernard Dorival, who expresses his wish to organise his first solo exhibition. Peinture 130 x 162 cm, 16 novembre 1965 will be exhibited at the MAM in 1967, the first solo Soulages exhibition in a French Museum. Last solo exhibition at the gallery of Samuel Kootz. The poet Saint John Perse visits Soulages in his studio.
1979First Outrenoirs. Exhibition "Soulages, Peintures récentes" at the Centre Pompidou.
1987Creation of the stained glass windows of the Abbey of Sainte-Foy de Conques.
1989Retrospective exhibition "Soulages 40 years of painting" in Kassel, Valence and Nantes.
1993-1995Retrospectives in Seoul, Beijing and Taipei. Pierre Encrevé publishes the first volume of the Catalogue Raisonné de l'œuvre peint de Pierre Soulages. A second volume follows in 1996, a third in 1998, a fourth in 2007 and a fifth in 2015.
2001Soulages is the first living artist to exhibit at the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.
2005-2007Pierre and Colette Soulages donate 500 paintings to the Communauté d'Agglomération du Grand Rodez for the creation of the Soulages Museum. At the same time, 19 paintings are donated to the Fabre Museum in Montpellier, which builds a new wing to house them.
2008Peinture, 21 July 1958 is exchanged for more than 1.5 million euros at Sotheby's Paris, an absolute record for a work by a French artist during his lifetime.
2009Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou on the occasion of its 90th anniversary.
2014The Soulages Museum in Rodez is inaugurated in the presence of the President of the French Republic.
2017For the first time, a painting by Soulages sells for more than 5 million euros at auction, Peinture 162 x 130 cm, April 14, 1962, trading at 6,120,000 euros against an estimate of between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000.
2019On the occasion of its centenary, the Louvre Museum pays tribute to Soulages by devoting a retrospective to him during his lifetime. Only Chagall and Picasso had had this privilege before him.
“Zitterlein seems more ferocious [than Ville engloutie], but less melancholic: subtle shades of saffron yellow, oranges and carmine red rub against blacks and peaks of ultramarine blue, creating a majestic saraband. It is chaotic only in appearance. This painting seems to announce a new beginning rather than the collapse of a world. By opting for abstraction, Zao Wou-Ki has left the world of resemblance. Thus, he discovered the shores of infinitely more vast and richer worlds - those of feeling, space, sensation, all equally real to him. His works have since, on occasion, sparked surprising interpretations. Zao Wou-Ki did not wish to explain his works. "What matters is only the painting," he wrote in his Self-Portrait. Zitterlein and its areas of mystery are a perfect example.”