Soulages Painting Formerly Owned by Léopold Sédar Senghor Sells – ARTnews.com
A painting by the French modernist Pierre Soulages from 1956, which once belonged to the poet, intellectual and former president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, who died in 2001, was sold on Saturday at the French auction house Caen Enchères for 1.5 million euros an estimate of € 800,000.
Senghor, an advocate of modern art during his tenure as Senegalese president from 1960 to 1980, bought the abstract painting entitled Painting 81 x 60 cm on December 3, 1956, directly from the artist during a studio visit in Paris the year it was completed. The canvas shows the typical style of the painter from the 1950s with black impasto brushstrokes on a neutral background before his outrenoir period in the late 1970s.
On the subject of matching items
The work, according to Caen, had long been on display in Senghor’s office in Verson, France, where she and his wife Colette lived in the 1980s after his presidency ended. It went to Senghor’s sister-in-law in 2019 after Colette’s death and then to the anonymous seller for the Caen auction, who was not a relative of the Senghors.
In addition to its impressive ownership record, the work was shown in a solo exhibition on Soulages in 1974 at the Musée Dynamique in Dakar. The museum’s creation in 1966, six years after Senegal’s official independence from France, was part of a series of cultural projects led by Senghor. In post-colonial Senegal, Senghor made a significant contribution to the country’s development as a key center for fine arts in Africa. In 1966 he founded the First World Festival of Negro Arts.
Senghor, an avid supporter of modern art movements in Europe and Africa, described Soulages’ work in his Lettres Nouvelles from 1958: “The first time I saw a painting by Pierre Soulages was a shock. I received a blow in the pit of my stomach that made me shake like the affected boxer suddenly collapsing. This is exactly how I felt when I first saw a Dan mask, ”which refers to the art form of the Dan people in Liberia.
In 1974, in a speech at the Soulages exhibition in Dakar, Senghor continued to describe the work of the French artist as “the brother of Negro-African art, not by imitation but by nature”. A year earlier, Senghor analyzed Soulages’ work in an article entitled “The Poetry of Pierre Soulage” and wrote, “For traditional Negro-African painters, it is black that naturally expresses life, while white expresses death.”