Georges Mathieu, born January 27, 1921, in Boulogne-sur-Mer and died June 10, 2012, in Boulogne-Billancourt, is a French painter considered as one of the fathers of lyrical abstraction. He is also famous for his 1974 ten-franc coin, his 1975 Antenne 2 logo, and his postage stamps.
Georges Mathieu initially studied law and philosophy. He quickly turned to the plastic arts and produced his first oil paintings in 1942. He was a teacher for a few years and then began an artistic career.
In 1947, at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, he exhibited canvases composed of paint applied directly from the tube, claiming to be the father of dripping, a technique attributed to Janet Sobel in 1944 and developed by Jackson Pollock in 1945. Mathieu crushed the paint with his finger. From 1950, he exhibited in the United States and Japan. From 1954 onwards, he created a multitude of paintings, often during performances or happenings with an audience, which emphasised the speed and technicality of the gesture. In 1956 at the Sarah Bernhardt Theatre in Paris, Mathieu created a 4 × 12-metre painting using several hundred tubes of paint in front of an audience of nearly 2,000. In the United States, his works were not popular. In 1958, in New York, he also tried to create works in public but was forbidden to do so. He painted in the galleries of his hotel. The New York galleries refused to exhibit his work.
From 1953 to 1962, he was editor-in-chief of the United States Lines Paris Review. In 1963, the year of his "Grande Rétrospective" at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, he finally achieved official recognition. Between 1968 and 1969, he created several gilded decorations for ceramics at the Manufacture de Sèvres, including tableware for the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal and the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka.
In 1973, he created an architectural work for the industrialist Guy Biraud, a manufacturer of transformers, and designed the plans for a factory in Fontenay-le-Comte. The result is an original seven-pointed star-shaped ensemble, whose all-glass perimeter is seen by the artist as a way of linking the workplace with nature.
From 1980 onwards, he broke with the last vestiges of classicism and abandoned the central figure, at the same time as his palette became more extensive.
He died on 10 June 2012 at the Ambroise-Paré Hospital in Boulogne-Billancourt. He is buried in Paris in the Montmartre cemetery (13th division).
The work of Georges Mathieu, neglected for some twenty years, has come back to the forefront of the contemporary art scene in the last five years. Several auctions or gallery sales have been held for more than one million euros, and his value is only increasing.
The Class Art Biarritz gallery offers several unique works by Georges Mathieu.