About This Project


Born in 1921 in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France; died in 2012 in Boulogne-Billancourt, France.

Georges Mathieu is considered as one of the fathers of lyrical abstraction and informal painting. After studying law and philosophy, he obtains a degree in English, which will allow him, after the war, to work in Paris as head of public relations for the American shipping company United States Lines. He began to paint non-figurative paintings in 1944, practising free and gestural abstraction. From 1947, he will be known for applying colour directly from the tube. With the framework of the theoretical debate, he organises various exhibitions in favour of Lyrical Abstraction, becoming an ardent champion. This new abstraction, gestural, lyrical, informal, stripped of traditions and rules hitherto predominant, will put the purely pictorial phenomena in the foreground. Mathieu is the first to impose abstract gestures within the School of Paris, before 1950, making contributions similarly to Fautrier, Hartung, Wols, Soulages, but also to the painters of the New York School, at a time when exchanges between these two cities were nonexistent. Working for the United States Lines keeps him well informed about the avant-garde movement, Action Painting, that was developing in New York at that time. He is the first to be aware of the affinity between the practice of lyrical abstraction and abstract expressionism and to get in touch with the American galleries. He exhibited for the first time in 1946, at the 6th Salon des moins de 30 ans, at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and in 1950 he had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris. In 1951, Mathieu exhibited Véhémences confrontées, the exhibition organised by himself together with the art critic Michel Tapié. The show highlights the extreme of painting non-figurative trends, the results of the experiences of American painting by De Kooning, Pollock, Bryen, Capogrossi, Hartung, Mathieu, Riopelle and Wols. The following year, Michel Tapié published the book titled Un art autre.