Self portrait in NY loft

All Visual Arts Gallery in King’s Cross is staging the first showing of Charles Matton’s work in the UK. A labyrinth has been constructed to install 38 of the late artist’s amazing boxes. To call them boxes is however an unjust simplification, they are really ‘reconstructions of places’ or ‘miniature spaces’ according to Jean Baudrillard. Each box represents interiors at one-seventh of their actual scale. To Matton they were ‘magic boxes and metaphysical boxes’ and they represent interiors as diverse as Bacon’s studio; the room in which the author Paul Bowles died; Freud’s study; a music room with a grand piano, on which is projected the ghostly image of Matton’s son, Jules, performing Debussy’s ‘Goldfish’. They are such direct representations that viewing them are literally like making a journey through time. Initially they were made more as part of a creative process, where Matton would construct these little set pieces to make a version of a space which he could manipulate at will (change lighting, wall colour and so on) and they weren’t meant to be on display as a piece of art in themselves.

Born in 1933, the son of a gambling addict who spent his life trying to defeat zero at roulette, his childhood saw a mixture of poverty and luxury, living first in Paris and then Monte Carlo, where his father took over the management of the Hotel Excelsior.

Matton exhibited in his native Paris in the early 60’s before turning to magazine illustration and book publishing. He continued to create art for himself and a small circle of collectors while he worked in New York alongside Jean-Paul Goude to oversee the design of Esquire magazine. He reemerged as an artist in 1983.

Although Charles Matton began his career as a painter, he also worked as a draftsman, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and writer – something that is evident in the way all these creative processes are merged in his later work.

8th September – 7th October, 2011
All Visuals Arts LLP
2 Omega Place
King’s Cross
London N1 9DR

Words by Anna Bang

A Sculptor’s Storage II

Boulevard St Germain

Charles Matton


Bacon, Baudrillard, Charles Matton, Freud, Jean-Paul Goude, Paul Bowles,