On October 22, the remarkable large format paintings of Georges Mathieu (1921-2012) will punctuate a rich and varied catalogue sale at Leclere auction house in Paris, which includes renowned artists such as Lucio Fontana, Victor Vasarely and Wifredo Lam.

Related: Abstract Art: from a Genre to a Movement

French artist Georges Mathieu, known for his dramatic abstract canvasses, turned to an artistic career in 1942 after studying law and teaching English. His first foray into art was painting naturalistic landscapes, but he soon began to experiment with avant-garde techniques such as dripping and tubism (squeezing paint from the tube directly onto the canvas).

His notoriety took on an international dimension in 1950 and his production increased. He created a multitude of paintings that highlighted the speed and spontaneity of composition. He then turned to performance art and filled several theaters with live art shows, such as one 1956 at Paris' Sarah Bernhardt Theater where he emptied nearly 800 tubes of paint on a 13 x 39 ft canvas.painting

Ultimate Threshold, Georges Mathieu, 1988. (Courtesy Leclere)

He quickly established himself as the founder of the lyrical abstraction movement, which began in post-World War II Europe and emphasized abstracted shape, sharp brush strokes and the bold use of contrasting colors. In his paintings, the lines seem to scrawl across his canvases with raw energy and his forms display an unprecedented freedom. The relationship between the hand of Georges Mathieu and the surface of the canvas is almost physical, and the speed of execution is transcribed in its aesthetics. The titles of his paintings often have historical, musical or geographical references, which add a deeper dimension to his dramatic body of work.

Georges Mathieu encountered difficulties in sharing his art across the Atlantic because the public performances he tried to stage in New York were rejected in 1958 and New York galleries refused to represent him, but he gained prominence in Europe, Asia and South America that came to a zenith in 1963 when a major retrospective was dedicated to him at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, an event that coincided with the publication of his book Beyond Tachism.

In 1968, a fire devastated his studio, and dozens of canvases were destroyed (including the famous canvas that was created at the Sarah Bernhardt Theater in 1956), so few works of his exist today from before 1968.

Mathieu showed great versatility during his career and in addition to his striking paintings, he is also known for painting the gold adornments for Sèvres ceramics, serving as editor-in-chief for the United States Lines Paris Review, and drawing up architectural plans for a factory in 1973 at the request of industrialist Guy Biraud.

The seven works to be presented for sale on Monday, October 22 by auction house Leclere were produced between 1967 (one year before the tragic fire) and the end of the 1980s— the heart of his lyrical abstraction period. These large format paintings, sourced from a single private collection, represent a spectacular ensemble, very representative of the ouevre of Georges Mathieu.

The collection will include works by other great masters of painting, such as Keith Haring, Wifredo Lam, Victor Vasarely and Sol Lewitt.

See all Georges Mathieu on Barnebys.

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