Pierre SOULAGES
Brou de Noix
1952
Walnut husk pigment on paper laid down on canvas by the artist
65 X 50 cm / 25 1/2 x 19 3/4 in
Signed, dated 52 and dedicated

LITERATURE:
– This work will be included in the upcoming Catalogue Raisonné of paintings on paper of Pierre Soulages, being prepared by Pierre Encrevé.
– Alain DELON, “Mes Années 50”, Communic’Art, Paris, 2007, ill. p. 37

PROVENANCE:
– Collection Elene Mc Knight, New York
– Collection Alain DELON, Paris (bought from the above)
– Private collection

CERTIFICATE: This work is accompanied by a photo-certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

For his first exhibition in 1947 Pierre Soulages showed his walnut stain paintings at the Salon des Surindependants, where his compositions consisting of bold brown strokes stood out from among the post-war neo-fauvist painting on show and attracted immediate attention. They won him the admiration of Hans Hartung’s wife and a meeting with the artist himself, with whom he was to form a lasting friendship. They also caught the sharp eye of Francis Picabia who saw him later at the Galerie Drouin and repeated what Pissarro had said to him about himself: “With your age and with what you do, it won’t be long before you have a lot of enemies!” In itself, using a cheap medium such as walnut stain made sense in those poverty-stricken times. Yet, beyond the materials used, the very asceticism of his constructions, the radical sobriety of his movements and the restrained energy contained in them, drew praise. To this day his painting remains faithful to this same economy of means, which is sometimes seen as expressing serene gravitas or a life force stripped of sentimentalism. […]
-The Figure of the tree: 
Pierre Soulages says he started painting trees and their bare branches from the age of seven, and his interest in the abstract patterns created by the crossing of vertical and horizontal lines derived from the figure of a tree. The same was also true of Piet Mondrian and Jean Bazaine. From this figure, Mondrian drew his orthogonal grid while Bazaine turned it into a flexible grid perforated by shafts of light filtered by branches. Soulages, on the other hand, never represents the silhouette of the tree. He extracts its structural energy and the way the vegetable structure fills the surrounding space.
A vertical trunk rises upwards as one solid piece with its branches spread horizontally. Their joins are never the same, they never form a right angle and their formation is determined by the force of gravity acting on them. In the abstract relationships formed by the broad lines of Walnut stain (1959), we find an organic character derived from this figure of the tree. Their leaning gives rise to supple intersections despite the underlying suggestion of a geometric grid. They interact with the edges of the paper without ever going over the edge, they adapt to the defined format, and they occupy the space like the branches of a tree spreading over the largest possible area to bask in a maximum of life-giving light. The two vertical strips, which carry the composition, diverge as they rise and fan out at the top, producing an impression of elasticity. The fact that the left hand strip is interrupted prevents the effect of symmetry from taking over.
Thus, all the strips are incorporated into the paper itself: “A black tree in winter is a kind of abstract sculpture” says Soulages, “what interested me was the lines of the branches, their movement in space…

(text by Norbert Godon: http://mediation.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ENS-soulages-ENG/ENS-soulages-EN.html#:~:text=For%20his%20first%20exhibition%20in,show%20and%20attracted%20immediate%20attention. )

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