Soulages was born in Rodez in the south of France and was predominantly self-taught as an artist. He moved to Paris in 1946, where he took up painting seriously. Following his first solo exhibition in 1949 Soulages became known as one of the leading exponents of 'Tachisme'. His paintings typically feature broad and powerfully applied strokes of black paint arranged in horizontal and vertical bands, which intersect and overlap each other. Soulages's work had an air of controlled spontaneity and showed the influence of oriental calligraphy.