For me, Mathieu Matégot is above all else a free spirit. With highly personal works, he established his very own world, piece after piece. It is hard to think back to the carefree elegance of the 1950s without thinking of Mathieu Matégot. He quite naturally comes across as a mythical, precise and precious icon of that period, and in this particular project it is our intent to put together the interpretation which is his due.
Mathieu Matégot was well removed from the austerity and gloom of the postwar years. Instead, he developed a daring language, at once light and free, in which the smallest object was a fully-fledged entity in its own right. Each set was made up of ethereal pieces of furniture, floating like moveable shadows, intoxicated by a philosophy of lightening and simplification, and an essential blueprint spirit. Simplicity, poetry and an ethics of colours and materials were all endlessly combined in painstaking constructive schemes.
Matégot worked like a great couturier. In his own way, he developed a “couture” of metal, like a craftsman. Each and every model was intended to be a one-off, with nothing to do with the idleness of reproducibility and the easiness of industrial production. As an artist bent on good taste, he invariably displayed a sort of frenzy, and a thirst for new creative work as each new season came around.
Like the self-taught Jean Royère, similarly endowed with a strong personality, he managed to develop an intimate relationship with vital forms and things organic, in a constant quest for forms which envelop, adhere to and marry the body, above all.
And like Jean Prouvé (on whom we have worked at length), Mathieu Matégot expressed another kind of globalness, in which his sets and ensembles formed actual pictures, in a marriage of design, art, and tapestry, as much as interior architecture - thereby illustrating a rarely matched independence of approach. With all the sensibility of an artist, Mathieu Matégot developed a system that was nevertheless all embracing-from manufacture and production to distribution, he never depended on another soul, and was himself responsible for all the complex stages involved by his work.
Another crucial contribution made by Mathieu Matégot was the introduction of the interior/exterior concept. This relationship between inside and outside was a founding requirement which cropped up in the perforation, in the hole and the weft, in the interweave of void and solid, and light and shadow which released the particularly specific tonality of Matégot’s production.
But what endears me even more to Mathieu Matégot is the modernity of his attitude. Perforated metal was not only an occasional element, and something anecdotal, but also had to do with foundation and appropriation. Just as Yves Klein appropriated a colour for himself, so Mathieu Matégot appropriated perforated metal, thereby demonstrating his modernity in his spiritual relationship with materials.
Why Matégot ? Philippe Jousse, April 2003