Lot 1012
  • 1012

GEORGES MATHIEU | Splendeur ignorée

800,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
1,625,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Mathieu, Georges
  • Splendeur ignorée
  • signed in French; titled in French on the reverse 
  • oil on canvas
  • 114 by 146 cm; 44 ⅞ by 57 ½ in. 
executed in 1989


Important Private European Collection 


Patrick Grainville & Gérard Xuriguera, Mathieu, Nouvelles éditions françaises, Paris, 1993, p. 192

Catalogue Note

Splendeur ignorée: Georges Mathieu’s Barbaric PeriodIn 1989, Georges Mathieu embarked upon what he called his “barbaric period.” Color and brushwork burst from large canvases, and many times, he even directly squeezed the paint onto the canvas, creating tense flows, spots, or blocks of color. 

Splendeur ignorée (Lot 1012) shows Mathieu’s bold gestures on the canvas. The collision of red, yellow, blue, and black spread in all directions from the center, embodying an overflowing surge of lofty ideals and enthusiasm.

“The 1980s witnessed the beginning of a ‘cosmic shift’ in his work that was followed by his ‘barbaric period,’” wrote Édouard Lombard, director of the Comité Georges Mathieu, in a 2018 essay. “Therefore, one sees appearing in the canvases, which correspond even more than ever to the letter of lyrical abstraction, more violent spurts, multiple drippings and explosions, highly contrasting colours, cavernous backgrounds that give a three-dimensional quality to the composition.”

This passage echoes art critic Lydia Harambourg’s observations Mathieu’s “barbaric period.” She said: “We observe a third dimension simulated by lights sprung from the background of the painting, contrasting with the jagged foregrounds.”

Mathieu excelled at conveying intensity of emotion through color. In the 1950s, he began to explore calligraphy, Buddhist and Daoist ideas, which permeated his artistic spirit and techniques for the rest of his life. “Finally, a western calligrapher!” exclaimed André Malraux, France’s first Minister of Cultural Affairs, in a discussion about Mathieu. Although the ancient Greek “kalligraphia” describes beautifully written words, the form had not been developed in Western cultures as it had been in Asia, where calligraphy had been elevated to a philosophical level. Mathieu’s in-depth study of calligraphy and his immersion in abstract painting greatly expanded the content of Western painting, and the heavy, emanating black lines in Splendeur ignorée could be the result of the artist’s incorporation of the Eastern spirit.

This work will be included in the Catalogue Raisonné of the artist, currently being prepared by Le Comité Georges Mathieu (n°GM80032)This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Le Comité Georges Mathieu