Abstract French painter Georges Mathieu passed away in a Parisian suburb on Sunday, age 91. Mathieu is best known for large-scale paintings featuring curving, calligraphic lines. These pieces were often created during public performances, with the artist working rapidly, sometimes applying the paint directly from the tube onto the canvas.
Mathieu helped launch the lyrical abstract mode of painting by organizing the exhibition “Abstraction Lyrique” in Paris in 1947. The organic nature of the work in the show contrasted with the geometric forms common in more traditional abstract painting.
At the height of his career, Mathieu was one of France’s most famous and financially successful painters. A colorful character who was the subject of a psychedelic 1974 documentary film, Georges Mathieu, or the Fury of Being, Matthieu described his work as “an orgasm of uncontrolled expression” in an 1954 article in Time.
More recently, Paris’s Jeu de Paume museum held a retrospective of his work in 2002. Mathieu’s work is currently included in the Guggenheim’s “Art of Another Kind: International Abstraction and the Guggenheim, 1949-1960,” on view through Sept. 12 in New York.