Georges Mathieu b. 1921, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France; d. 2012, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Oil on canvas
78 3/4 x 118 inches (200 x 299.7 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
A key figure of the postwar art scene in Paris as well as a champion—and competitor—of the burgeoning movement of Abstract Expressionist painters in New York, Georges Mathieu practiced a mode of gestural abstraction that was decidedly calligraphic. His paintings were executed with controlled force, resulting in a matrix of lines bursting from a single point and thrusting outward in every direction, as seen in Painting (Peinture, 1952). The artist often squeezed paint directly from tubes onto the canvas and emphasized the necessity of rapid application in order to harness an intuitive expression. Mathieu also occasionally introduced a performative dimension to his painting in the 1950s, executing large canvases before audiences. This merger of painting and performance anticipated the work of Yves Klein and others in the late 1950s and 1960s.