Outrenoir: Ultra-Black


“Brou de noix” (1946) Credit…Archives Soulages/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NewYork/ADAGP, Paris.

French painter Pierre Soulages turns 100 this December, 2019. He is being accorded an exhibit at the Louvre. The only other painters given an exhibit there during their lifetimes were Picasso and Chagall. Since 1979, Soulages has worked exclusively in black, creating a series of works he calls “outrenoir,” or “beyond black.”


“Painting” (2008) Credit…Archives Soulages/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

“Black is never the same because light changes it,” he said, in French, through an interpreter. “There are nuances between the blacks. I paint with black but I’m working with light. I’m really working with the light more than with the paint.”


“Painting” (1955) Credit…Archives Soulages/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

Prehistoric art was his primary source of inspiration, Mr. Soulages said. “I always ask myself one question,” he said. “Who was this big ape who one day painted on the wall?”

(Nina Siegal, “Black Is Still the Only Color for Pierre Soulages,” NYTimes, 11-29-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to Outrenoir: Ultra-Black

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    If you paint with light on black rather than the color on the painting, how do you control the color? And having a retrospective at the Louvre in your lifetime may be much more possible if you live over 90 years.,Also, I’m starting to find all-black or all-white canvases less innovative than lazy, and the explanations less brilliant than excuses. On the other hand I quite like some of his more textures offerings, though “texture” is probably not the word to use, or “craft”, especially the more they directly apply.


  2. JMN says:

    I agree. Using black as a color, and only black — or painting with any single color for that matter — is over my head. Is it more akin to drawing with brush, in theory? I like what you say about how living to be a hundred can get you into places! I see in my notifications that you’ve responded to the duct-taped banana in Miami! I figured it would get your attention. I was pleased with myself when I recognized the artist as the creator of the golden toilet stolen from Churchill’s palace.


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