Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Mathieu Mategot Carpets: Creative Rug Designs form the 1960s Worth Knowing

The documentalist has to respect rules to be credible in the long term. They have to avoid the market trends, and be able to reference all types of textile work without a particular preference, which is sometimes difficult. Everyone has their own sensibilities, and it is often frustrating when you become aware of the talent of a designer, particularly when you get the impression that the market is unaware or unappreciative of that designers work. One reason for the creation of this blog is to publicise some of the great, but often underestimated artists and designers, and to share this 'coup de coeur' with others.

Mathieu Mategot, a prolific French textile and furniture designer of the 1960s belongs to this category. He designed hundreds of hand-woven Aubusson tapestries, but only managed to create a small collection of between six to ten carpet designs. These designs had to naturally work within the constraints and requirements of the floor, rather than the wall and are therefore completely different from his wall-hanging works. The majority of the 'tapestry cartoonists' of the time, rarely managed this feat. For example, Jean Lurcat, Maurice Andre, Fumeron and Saint-Saens failed to express the new decorative style of the 1960s, and so were therefore much criticised at the time.

Mathieu Mategot's largest rug, 265cm x 370cm, 1960s. Reproduced with the agreement of the owner

Mategot was different. Firstly, he chose to produce machine woven carpets, rather than hand-woven, some of which were made by Saint Freres. This shouldn't be seen as a negative step by Mategot, but as a positive affirmation of the principles of the Bauhaus, believing that mass production would be able to make design work available to everyone. Secondly, he intrinsically understood that modern floor-coverings required a different graphical treatment than that of a tapestry. Therefore, he produced a set of new techniques for the creation of his compositions. The illustration below clarifies this point.

Mategot arranged his compositions so that he separated the border area from the central background. Of course the edges are much more subtle and the divisions are evoked but not marked with straight lines. For the central design he often moved it in order to produce a new graphical and artistic effect, to create a movement to catch the eye and to break the symmetrical reproduction that is so often found in other classical style rugs. For the colours, he reduced their number to counteract the aggressive quality of the modern design. However, the colour palette does not feel limiting as he often uses the 'chine technique' (the mixing of different colours together), and the use of thin coloured mixed lines for the design of the overlapping zones of colour. Conversely, the colour zones in his tapestries are not merged, but remain singular and plain.

The end result is that his work is original, structured and innovative, but despite this, the large rug shown here could not find a buyer in a sale at Cornette de St Cyr on March 16, 2009, Lot 92, and even failed to find one on ebay.fr last month, despite an initial bid of 2000 Euros.

Market judgements can sometimes be disappointing, that is why I carry on studying and writing.

Post written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

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