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London
  • Composition abstraite

    1958

    Ink and gouache on paper
    56 x 75.5 cm

  • Cybernetics

    1957

    Oil on canvas
    144 x 84 cm

Georges Mathieu was born in 1921 in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. He studied philosophy and literature before devoting himself to painting. After his first studies on realist landscape paintings and portraits, in 1944 he began to experiment with more abstract and expressive forms in his “lyrical abstractions”. His production is associated with Tachism (French for stain-making), a style of painting practiced in Paris after World War II and through the 1950s. Similar to Abstract Expressionist painting in the United States, Tachism is understood as emotional, intuitive and highly spontaneous, emphasizing the gestural and performative aspects of the act of painting. Mathieu’s work in the style of Tachism was part of the larger French Postwar movement known as Art Informel, inspired by the instinctive, personal approach of contemporary American Abstract Expressionism and Action painting. Mathieu even sought to introduce Jackson Pollock to Europe at the end of 1940s organising exhibitions of Abstract Expressionist and Art Informel works. In the mid-1950s, Mathieu began to paint in front of several thousand viewers at a time in theatrical events, referring to both Action painting and Performative Art. Mathieu’s decorative work, resembling Asian calligraphy, received wide critical attention in exhibitions such as dOCUMENTA II in Kassel in 1959, and a 1963 retrospective at the Musée National d´Art Moderne in Paris. His work is represented in international collections including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Mumok in Vienna, the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro, and the Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland. In addition to his paintings, happenings, and his work as a curator, Mathieu has gained recognition as a writer and art theorist with his 1963 essay Au-delà du Tachisme. He died in 2012 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France.