Seven exceptional works by Georges Mathieu are hitting the auction block on 22 October, thanks to the Postwar and Contemporary department of Leclere auction house.

These remarkable large-format paintings punctuate a rich and varied catalogue sale which includes, among others, renowned artists such as Lucio Fontana, Victor Vasarely and Wifredo Lam.

Georges Mathieu turned to an artistic career in 1942, when he created his first oil paintings after studying law and spending some time as a teacher. He exhibited four years later in Paris at the ‘Salon des moins de trente ans’ and at the ‘Salon des réalités nouvelles’ the following year. The artist presented colourful paintings full of texture, which he said culminated with thanks to the paternity of ‘drip’ painting, attributed to Jackson Pollock in 1945.

Mathieu’s notoriety took on an international dimension in 1950, when he strove to create paintings that highlighted the speed and the gesture and notion of spontaneity. He quickly turned to performance with his gestural works, where crowds would board theaters during his timed ‘happenings’ that gave birth to remarkable works. For example, in 1956 at the Sarah Bernhardt Theater in Paris where Mathieu emptied nearly 800 tubes of paint on a canvas of 4 by 12 meters.

The artist quickly established himself as the founder of lyrical abstraction, his use of material dazzling with colours springing from the tube with raw energy and his creative gesture borrowed from an unprecedented freedom.

The relationship between the hand of Georges Mathieu and the surface of the canvas is almost physical – as is its speed of execution, transcribed into its aesthetics. The titles of his paintings (evidenced by the titles of the works presented in the sale of Leclere) are impregnated with historical references, musical or geographical, and bring an additional dimension, poetic and offbeat, to his body of work.

However, Mathieu also encountered difficulties in sharing his art across the Atlantic. The public performances he tries to put in place in New York in 1958 were forbidden and the New York galleries refuse to exhibit him, simply sending him back to to paint alone in the galleries of his hotel. He suffered this rejection from institutions and galleries of the Big Apple until the end of his career.

His official consecration took place in 1963, when a major retrospective was dedicated to him at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, which occurs simultaneously with the publication of his book Beyond Tachism.

In 1968 a fire consumed Mathieu’s studio, and consequently dozens of his canvases were destroyed (including a tribute to poets around the world, the monumental canvas created at the Sarah Bernhardt Theater in 1956).

Mathieu showed great versatility during his career. Besides his monumental colourful paintings, he is known for his golden decorations for ceramics from the Manufacture de Sèvres, his editorial talent for the review United States Lines Paris Review, and even for hsi architectural work realised in 1973 at the request of the industrialist Guy Biraud.

The seven works to be presented for sale by Leclere on Monday 22 October have been produced between 1967 (one year before Mathieu’s tragic fire) and the end of the 1980s, a period when his palette became larger and tinted with a certain maturity. These large-format paintings, all from a single private collection, represent a spectacular ensemble, typically representative of the work of Georges Mathieu, the father of lyrical abstraction.

The sale also includes works by other great masters of painting, such as Keith Haring, Wifredo Lam, Victor Vasarely, and Sol Lewitt.

Find all lots from Leclere on Barnebys