Georges Mathieu was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais) on January 27, 1921. He began painting in 1942, and in 1944 discovered a book on the writer Joseph Conrad by Edward Crankshaw. For him, this reading was a revelation of what the essence of art really is. "I was led to wonder whether it was not possible to express oneself in painting through style alone, without going through the intermediary of representation. It was then that I banished all representation from my painting."
In 1947, Mathieu arrived in Paris. Alongside Wols, Atlan and Hartung, he led the lyrical abstraction offensive. Painting is not about composing a work, it's about translating into gestures and signs that "the artist's approach is in communication with the living forces of the cosmos".
Mathieu began a period of intense activity, with lectures, manifestos and exhibitions. In New York in particular, he sent a message to avant-garde American painters. At Germaine Richier's request, he agreed to take part in the Salon de Mai 1954, where he sent a huge canvas, "La Bataille de Bouvines". In 1956, for the first time in public, he painted a four-by-twelve-meter canvas in twenty minutes on stage at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt. In September 1957, he left for Japan, where he received a triumphant welcome. "At last a Western calligrapher" was a popular description, but one that wrongly restricted the artist's approach, and one he would find hard to shake off throughout his career.
"An artist is one who participates in all manifestations of life and culture more fully than any other being, because he is gifted with greater sensitivity. For an artist worthy of the name, there is no domain, however small, that he does not have the right but the duty to invade".
Despite his success, Mathieu never ceased to reinvent himself, moving from a central composition to a distribution of forms that invaded the entire canvas. He also created a large number of pieces of furniture, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics and even tapestry cartoons for the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins.
He died on June 10, 2012 in Boulogne-Billancourt. His work can be found in many prestigious museums, including the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.