Georges Mathieu

Georges Mathieu

Georges Mathieu was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1921. After studying law and philosophy, he got a degree in English which allowed him to work as head of public relationships for the American navy company U.S. Lines after the war in Paris. He started painting non-figurative pictures in 1944 by practicing a free and gestural abstraction. In 1947 he distinguished himself for the application of colour directly from the tube. During the lively theoretic debate, he organized several exhibitions in favour of Abstraction Lyrique and became a fervent defender. This new gestural, lyrical and informal abstraction got rid of up-to-then predominant traditions and rules in order to put in the foreground purely pictorial phenomena. The philosophical trend of the time upheld the persuasion of committed artists to develop a kind of gestural painting, to live painting experience in a new way with a total corporeal involvement. Mathieu was the first to impose gestural capacity inside School of Paris before 1950 and he offered his contribute in a similar way to Fautrier, Hartung, Wols, Soulages, but also to painters of the School of New York, at a time when there were no exchanges between the two capitals. His work for U.S. Lines allowed him to remain informed on the avant-garde movements which blossomed on New York scene through Action Painting. He was the first to be aware of affinities between the practice of lyrical abstraction and abstract expressionism, but he also got in touch with American galleries. He could exhibit for the first time in 1946 at Sixth Salon des moins de 30 ans, at Gallerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and in 1950 he had his first personal exhibition at Galerie René Drouin in Paris. In 1951 Mathieu exposed at Ve’he’mences confronte’es, the exhibition he himself organized with critic Michel Tapié. This review emphasized the extreme tendencies of non-figurative painting, the results of experiences of American painting, ranging from De Kooning to Pollock, Bryen, Capogrossi, Hartung, Mathieu, Riopelle and Wols. The following year Michel Tapié published the book entitled ‘Un Art Autre’.

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