Rouge et Noir
Soulages Masterpiece offered at Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary

Peinture 128,5 x 128,5 cm, 16 décembre 1959 by the French artist Pierre Soulages (b 1919) leads Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale in London on 12 March. This sublime painting is a masterpiece of the artist's oeuvre and from his most important period. It is also one of only a very few executed in this arresting red and black palette. The work has an estimate of £5,500,000-7,500,000.

In Peinture 128,5 x 128,5 cm, 16 décembre 1959, Soulages unusually employs an intense crimson to form the foundation for the painting. This differentiates the work from others of the same period, and produces a mercurial surface that constantly shifts under light. It also undoubtedly echoes the palettes of Soulages friend Mark Rothko, to whom the French artist had been introduced in New York in 1957.

A contemporary of Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, and a close friend of Zao Wou-Ki, Pierre Soulages is universally regarded as one of the world's greatest living artists and is still working at the age of 100. He has been honoured with countless museum exhibitions, including a current retrospective at the Louvre Museum in Paris that runs until March 2020. His work is in many of the most prestigious museum collections in the world – this work's sister painting from 1960 is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bonhams Global Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor said, "A radiant and captivating work of exceptional mastery, Peinture 128,5 x 128,5 cm, 16 décembre 1959 is perfectly proportioned and comes from one of the most decisive and productive periods of Soulages' long career. The work is a testament to the outstandingly balanced and dynamic surfaces that typify his practice. It comes fresh to market from a distinguished princely collection and is one of the most important paintings by the artist ever to come to the market."

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