Great Master of Abstraction
The city of Rodez, in Midi Pyrenee was graced with the birth of one of the greatest contemporary artists: Pierre Soulages.
The painter is deeply attached to his hometown. He once declared, “I have two birth places: Rodez and contemporary painting.” In fact, the Soulages museum permanent collection is based on 500 works donated by the artist and his wife.
Soulages, who'd turned 94 at the time of the opening in 2014, is the first living artist to be honoured with a museum. The new cultural institution devoted to his work should prove a magnet for lovers of modern art.
Great Master of Techniques
The “Master of Black” many facets are also honoured at the 2500 m2 Museum. A chronological account takes you through Soulages’ deep attentions to different mediums, from painting, to engraving, bronze, prints, lithography, and glass art.
The building’s design embodies Pierre Soulages’ work, particularly, the Brous de Noix (Walnut Stains) series from the 1940s. The simple arrangement of Corten-steel cubes in varying heights evokes the famous fluid organic forms juxtaposed with geometric beams.
The rusty Museum mirrors the rose-colored Notre-Dame de Rodez cathedral. The 13th-century parish stands majestic over the wild landscape of the Causses and the Cevennes spreading in the backdrop.
Black and Light
From green to black... it’s easy transitioning into Soulages’ passion for dark impressions from the garden of Foirail.
Twenty robust, all–black canvasses from his famous Outrenoirs series occupy the space like historical landmarks. Here, various textures and finishes —matt or glossy, flat or ridged— manipulate the light, while revealing a blend of arts from different times.
Did you know Soulages created 104 windows for the 19th Century Sainte-Foy de Conques Abbey, as a tribute to the place that inspired him, at a young age, to become a painter?
A Museum for Creativity
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the four-storey Museum includes temporary spaces for showing works by emerging contemporary artists, a resource center, and an educational area for children.
Soulages was keen that the museum be accessible, not elitist. The artist even insisted Café Bras —the Michelin-starred restaurant connected to the museum— remains affordable to students.
Garden of Foirail
Avenue Victor Hugo