Many international bidders vied for this eagerly anticipated painting by Georges Mathieu, both at the gallery and on the phone. The result matched its rarity.
Georges Mathieu (1921–2012), Exil de Go Daïgo dans l'île d'Oki (Exile of Go Daïgo on the Island of Oki), 1957, oil on canvas, 181 x 362 cm/ 71.25 x 142.52 in.
It was to thunderous applause that the hammer fell at €1,182,375, setting a new French record (source: Artnet) for the father and theorist of lyrical abstraction, who died in 2012. Georges Mathieu painted the large oil on canvas, which had never been on the market or exhibited in France before, in September 1957 in Tokyo during a stay in Japan. The previous year, he had embarked on a series of round-the-world trips that took him to London, Japan, the United States and South America (1959) with the aim of comparing the lyrical abstraction revolution with various movements in the international avant-garde. In the classroom of Sofu Teshigahara (1900–1979), the master of flower arrangement and founder of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, renowned for its influence on postwar Japanese art, Mathieu battled with his canvas in front of a large audience where there was no room for error. Our work symbolizes the exchanges between foreign contemporary artists and the members of the Gutai group. According to Kato Mizuho, visiting associate professor at the Osaka Museum, in 1957 the painting entered the collection of Jiro Yoshihara, a theorist of the young movement, and only left Japan to be sold in Paris. Its record price illustrates the ongoing enthusiasm for the artist, whom art critic Soichi Tominaga dubbed "the greatest French painter since Picasso".