solemn tribute to Pierre Soulages at the Louvre

It was at the Louvre, where he was one of the rare artists to have received honors during his lifetime, along with Chagall and Picasso, that the national tribute to Pierre Soulages was held this Wednesday, November 2. Shortly after three p.m., the coffin of the painter, who died on October 26, entered the Cour Carrée, carried by ten Republican Guards and covered with midnight blue velvet.

Two monumental portraits – large black and white photographs – had been placed on either side of the assembly made up of his family – Colette, to whom he had been married since 1942, his nephews and nieces -, political figures – the President of the Republic, his wife Brigitte, ministers and former ministers – and representatives from the world of culture.

In 2019, Pierre Soulages had celebrated his hundredth birthday in this same place, recalled Emmanuel Macron in the preamble to a vibrant eulogy. “He had become a classic during his lifetime”, continued the President of the Republic by brushing his career: the birth in Rodez, in 1919; the child who drew snow in black ink; his “glare” at age 12 during a visit to Conques Abbey; recognition of the artist from 1949; and, in 1979, his definitive and prolific plunge into the dark.

The “light” in mourning

“Genesis tells of the separation of light and dark. Soulages showed that it remained from one to the other”, declared Emmanuel Macron, defining the painter as a “gold digger in the middle of the shadows”before concluding : “On this day, the nation wears the black of mourning but Pierre Soulages taught us to detect the light. »

After the solemn salute of the President of the Republic standing in front of the coffin and the “ringing of the dead” given by the Republican Guard, the army choir sang The Marseillaise. The ceremony ended shortly after 3:35 p.m. to the sound of a melody dear to the painter: theAir on the G string by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by the string quartet of the Republican Guard Orchestra, as the body left the Louvre.

Pierre Soulages should be buried Friday in Paris. On the same day, a mass will be celebrated in his memory at the Abbey of Conques, where he had created the 104 stained glass windows.


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