Art: Knockout Blow

"Matisse used to design the outline of a chair, then design the colors, and fill them in. Or he designed the color and then the chair. But one comes after the other. Moi, je fais tout d'un coup [I do everything at once]—contour, matiere, surface, color, line, all in the same stroke." Thus Paris Painter Pierre Soulages, at 37 a roaring commercial success and winner of several international art prizes, describes the effort behind his huge, bulking canvases—massive, broad strokes of dark paint laid on the light background with brush, board, strips of leather and cardboard to make a bold structural...

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