Pierre Soulages was born in 1919, Rodez, France. In 1938, Soulages trained as a drawing teacher in Paris. He was accepted to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, but left shortly after seeing exhibitions of Cézanne and Picasso. In 1940, Soulages was drafted and in 1942 he was conscripted for STO (Service de travail obligatoire) in Germany. Soulages went underground and worked as a winegrower with false papers, eventually meeting Sonia Delauney, which sparked his interest in abstract art. In 1946, Soulages settled in Paris and began to paint abstract works. In 1979, after three decades as an internationally successful artist, Soulages embarked on a new type of painting. Having always been interested in light he began to make paintings, which were totally black. These new works he described as 'Outre Noir' (beyond black). With contrasting areas of matt and gloss paint and ridges and gashes across their surface, these paintings draw focus on light's reflection- changing with the light conditions and with the viewers' position in front of the painting. The same year Soulages exhibited at Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris.
In 2001, Pierre Soulages became the first living painter to exhibit at the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Through the nineties and early-2000's Soulages has been replica omega italia honoured with retrospectives internationally, such as Japan, Kassel, South Korea, China, Paris, Montréal and São Paulo. In 2009, Soulages was honoured by having a painting exhibited in the Louvre and a major retrospective of his work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The exhibition was visited by over 500,000 people, making it the fourth most visited exhibition in the history of the Pompidou (after Dali, Matisse and Kandinsky) with many more visitors than the top exhibitions in the UK at the time.
The Musée Soulages opened in May 2014 in Soulages' birthplace, Rodez.