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Mr. Burgher's Art Facts

Georges Mathieu

Mix Master
About Mr.B

Georges Mathieu: 1921-****...France

One of the more obscure areas in visual art knowledge is in the area of performance art, and one of the more obscure artists in the area of performance art is Georges Mathieu. Born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, Mathieu went into his higher education seeking knowledge in literature and philosophy. He began to explore painting when he was twenty-one.

During the 1950s Mathieu earned a reputation with his unique and quick abstract paintings, or what he calls “lyrical abstractionism”, on the international level. These rather large abstract works that he calls "Battles" were largely inspired by historical events from early in Frances existence. He developed a process of painting works in front of an audience. These works are commonly known as live action paintings. The impulsive works are anti-Geometric Abstract at their core. Mathieu hates Geometric Abstraction and created a set of rules when painting his live action paintings so that they would not become something his detestes. His three rules for live action painting are: the paintings needed to be created quickly; he could have no preconceived notion of subjects he would work from; and he had to unconsciously focus on a single task, painting without distractions within his own mind. He loved the spontaneity that is seen in the art of Jackson Pollock, and wanted to capture that gestural handling of paint in his artworks.

Georges Mathieu approaches his art making like a theatrical production. He has the thirteen by forty foot canvas on stage, where he would enter in front of his audience. Taking the persona of a character from history, he begins to paint to tell the story of that character, usually within a half an hour. As in his work Homage to Maréchal De Turenne, the title given to Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, who is one of the most celebrated war heroes of French history during the era of Louis XIV. He commonly uses eight hundred tubes of paint in each of these large-scale works. Although he is primarily known for the "Battles", he is also known to have created sculpture, furniture, tapestries, frescoes, and written great works of theory in the area of visual art.

Homage to Maréchal De Turenne

1952. Oil on canvas. 78¾ X 156½ inches. Private Collection.

Mr. Mike Burgher * PO Box 247 * Dallas Center, Iowa. 50063