BLACK, THICKNESS AND RHYTHM
On the start of the project, the created material, the produced light and its modulation, as well as the architecture, were all equally important. "I needed to differentiate the world of light from the world of opacity. The one of the bays from the one of the walls [...]. Without being even aware of it, I avoided instinctively the formal repetition in the lead and glass drawings. I preferred oblique lines, rather flowing, slightly curved, stretched more or less, with the tension driven generally upwards. There are no orthogonal lines, only soft ones visualizing life energy rather than gravity. They follow the modulation of the light, through all the surface of the bay where unity is not broken by any contrasts."
Based on the same principle, Pierre Soulages removed the usual stained-glass border that underlines the windows' edge. Through this omission, he wanted to keep the purity and the power of the bay architecture, unknowingly making his masterpieces similar to the first alabaster panels found in churches before the use of glass.
The preparation work or Cartons
The work started with Jean-Dominique Fleury and Eric Savalli, at the artist's workshop in Paris and Sète. It went on at the glass-master's workshop in Toulouse. An unusual method was used. The leads were drawn with black masking tape of similar width, set upon a smooth white surface of the same dimension as the bay. The masking tape, able to be moved many times, allowed them to achieve little by little and after many distant controls, the right lines. Jean-Dominique Fleury remembers: "Soulages' eye drawing in the distance, placing the lines, the tape stripes coming into tension, space and alignment on the carton, giving the black, the thickness and the rhythm".
The saddle bars
In addition, the specifications required the resetting of the saddle bars and lead fittings. Pierre Soulages wanted these steel bars, essential in the rigidity and bearing of the stained-glasses, to "strongly participate in the artistic arrangement, motivated as much by the chosen rhythm of the leads and shapes as by their bearing purpose". They were chosen to be horizontal and even in number, to avoid dividing the surface by the middle. During the installation of a test-window, Pierre Soulages and Jean-Dominique Fleury were surprised to see that these bars fitted exactly into the places of the original saddle bars: a meeting of minds between the modern artist and the builders of the monument...