Painting, 9 Decembre 2007 - 304 x 181 cm - Acrylic paint on four canvases; London, Tate
Early on in his career, Pierre Soulages determined that the titles allotted to his works should provide the data of their size and day of completion. This is true of Painting 304 x 181 cm, 9 December 2007 2007 which belongs to the sequence of large-scale outrenoir (literally 'beyond black') works that he started in 1979. From the outset in the 1940s, Soulages was fascinated with the potential of black, something that would become the key element of his career. In the outrenoir paintings he modified the density of black by the use of complex textures. Painting 304 x 181 cm, 9 December 2007 is made of a stack of four horizontal canvases each exhibiting a different textural treatment. The top panel presents a duality of long striations running across its width and a flattened plane below. The two middle panels are restrained. The upper one has a matt finish. This is off-set by the silky sheen of the third panel, which seems to have been begun by subtle vertical strokes smoothing the paint surface. The lowest panel of Painting 304 x 181 cm, 9 December 2007 is the most textured and thus echoes the very top of the composition.