GEORGES MATHIEU

Boulogne-sur-Mer 1921 - Boulogne-Billancourt 2012

After studying Litterature, Law and Philosophy at the University of Lille, after which he obtained a degree in English in 1941, Georges Mathieu produced his first oil paintings (1942). He worked as a teacher for some years before embarking on an artistic career (English teacher at Douai high school in the North of France in 1943 and French teacher at the American University in Biarritz in 1945).
In 1946 he organised his first exhibition at the Salon des moins de trente ans (Paris). He was the first in France to violently react against geometric abstraction and organized a series of demonstrations in 1947 in favour of an art freed from all constraints and traditional habits he called the « Lyrical Abstraction », of which he would be the promoter. The same year he was upgraded to Director of Public Relations for the American company United States Lines (Paris).
In 1950 he produced his first paintings. The following year, he made a study trip to Positano (Italy) where he began to conciliate the Gestalt theory with Lyrical Abstraction. From 1953 to 1963 he was editor in chief of the United States Lines Paris Review. In 1954, he executed his first great paintings, left for Japan and was given a triumphal reception in 1957. He then stayed in the United States.
By 1959, retrospectives of his works were held in museums in Cologne, Basel, Krefeld, Neuchâtel, Geneva ... He then went to Brazil, Argentina, Lebanon, Israel, Canada and in almost every country of Europe.
In 1962, convinced of the need to create harmony between man and environment, he recognized one of the major duties of the artist to the city and tried to turn his « language » into « style ». He then created new forms of furniture, jewellery, produced tapestry cartoons for the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins, designed plates for Manufacture de Sèvres, established a factory in Fontenay-le-Comte, realized a series of posters for Air France, medals for the Monnaie de Paris, and created a new coin of 10 francs.
After more than one hundred solo exhibitions around the world, after four major retrospectives, Georges Mathieu had undertaken monumental sculptures as the one at the Neuilly sports complex. By 1964, Georges Mathieu had launched a crusade for an education that would not emphasize reason over sensibility, nor economic progress to the detriment of human progress and that would give access to the greatest number of people to the simplest and most exciting joys of life.
A sentence from Galbraith he liked to quote, sums up his philosophy : « The artist is now called, to reduce the risk of a social wreck, to leave his ivory tower for the control tower of society ».
He also participated in the development of the new village of Castellaras (Var), in collaboration with Jacques Couëlle.
In 1976 he became Director of the Society of Encouragement to Arts and Crafts professions, but also a member of the Commission for the Reform of Art Education (Ministry of Education). He participated in works of the Institut de l'Entreprise.
He became a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 1975, and his works are today exhibited in the world’s greatest museums.

For more information about Georges Mathieu : Georges Mathieu Committee

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