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Pioneering artist Mathieu dies

June 13, 2012

He launched the lyrical abstraction movement in 1947.

PARIS: The French artist Georges Mathieu, who from the 1940s pioneered the movement known as lyrical abstraction, has died at age 91, his family said yesterday.

Georges Victor Mathieu d’Escaudoeuvres, who in the 1950s and 1960s was one of France’s best known artists on the international scene, died on Sunday in a hospital in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.

He launched the movement in 1947 with an exhibit entitled “Lyrical Abstraction” featuring paintings characterised by expressions of movement and emotion, in contrast with the geometric abstraction of Piet Mondrian.

The movement drew other artists, including Hans Hartung, Gerard Schneider, Wols and Jean-Paul Riopelle.

French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti hailed Mathieu as “one of the most convincing representatives of an art that demands the artist’s deepest energies, which focuses on the resource of spontaneity but without surrendering to blind chance.”

Born on Jan 27, 1921 in Boulogne-sur-Mer in the northern Pas-de-Calais region, Mathieu studied law and English, which he taught as he took up painting in 1942.

Mathieu painted directly with tubes of paint and was known for organising outdoor performances where he would work on huge canvases, including one in 1956 where he painted for 20 minutes before 2,000 people, using a 12-square-metre canvas and 800 tubes.

He was well known in Japan, where in 1957 he painted 21 canvases in three days in such performances.

Later in his career, Mathieu turned his hand to graphic design and architecture, designing a 10-franc coin, postage stamps, Air France posters and jewellery.—AFP


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