As Jean Cassou, the director of the Musée national d’Art moderne de Paris wrote at the time in a text entitled “Evolution de l’art de Pierre Soulages” published in Art International, gigantic patches of a smooth and substantial black now invade the canvas. “It is no longer light and form that play out the piece, but scale. A whole other passion exerts itself, not by contrast, but by irresistible displacements.”
Peinture 202 x 143 cm, 16 Novembre 1966 marvelously illustrates this mutation in Soulages’ work towards something less authoritarian, more versatile and more fluid. In this monumental painting, light no longer comes from the background, but emerges through a subtle play of transparency. It comes from black itself, reflecting and spreading out in large planes that recall resin or tar. Gestural abstraction has supplanted geometric abstraction. Just as lateral or elongated forms have supplanted the scrapings from the early 1960s.
The years 1963-1967 were also those of the great group exhibitions, as Pierre Encrevé explains, author of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, in the Volume II of Soulages’s complete works. These large black planes establish a new relationship between black and white in Soulages’s works which are thus shown in the most important museums of the world. At the Venice Biennale, the Documenta in Kassel, the Tate Gallery in London the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and at the Musée national d’art moderne de Paris of course, where Peinture 202 x 143 cm, 16 Novembre 1966, made a strong impression.
The random is an associate (…). I make sure that it can offer me something. I develop strategies that allow it to do so. But it is always me who ultimately decides. I accept or refuse its proposals, I evaluate intuitively its limits, if they have a future or not.
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