'France's leading living artist' Pierre Soulages stars at Paris auction

Two very different paintings are set to steal the show when they meet at the next Artcurial modern art auction. 'Contemporary Art - First Vacation' will see over 200 works from some of the 20th century's most celebrated modern artists including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst go under the hammer.

But works by two celebrated French artists look to be the star lots of the sale, which takes place in Paris on December 6.

The first work to catch the eye amongst the lots is 'Peinture 202 x 125 CM, 1975' by Pierre Soulages, and has an estimated price of $337,000 - $405,000. Soulages has been described by many as "France's leading living artist", and his work has been characterized by a 60 year long obsession with light reflected on the colour black.

Soulage's 'Peinture 202 x 125cm, 1975' is
valued at approximately $400,000

Taken from his lesser-known 'outrenoir' (beyond black) period, the canvas still captures the strong expressionistic style and bold strokes of his more famous work of the 1950s. These earlier works have proven extremely popular with art collectors, and in 2007 his piece Peinture 125 x 202 (a 1959 blue and black oil canvas) sold for $2.2m.

Soulages turned 90 this year and his birthday was celebrated with a number of exhibitions and retrospectives across France. His advancing years mean the onus will increasingly fall on collectors to preserve his work.

Secondly, Jean Dubuffet's 'Escalier VIII' is a vinyl-on-canvas from his Escalier series, painted in 1967 during a period in which he limited himself to creating works purely using the colours red, white, black and blue. It is a superb example of his idealised approach to aesthetics, containing a sense of vibrancy and humour to be found in much of his work, and has an estimated price of $400,000 - $540,000.

Jean Dubuffet's 1967 'Escalier VIII' has a
high-estimate price of $540,000

Debuffet embraced all manner of materials from concrete to butterfly wings and coined the term Art Brut (Raw Art, often described as Outsider Art) to describe work by non-professionals working outside the recognised art world. In later years he experimented with musical collaborations and huge architectural sculptures, but his lasting influence can be seen clearly in works by contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst.

The auction next month should prove popular with collectors looking to invest in modern art. As recent sales have shown, the market for stable investment artworks is going from strength to strength. And in the case of Soulages, this sale could prove the perfect opportunity to buy a painting whose price look set to soar in the near future.


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