Charles Matton was a conceptual artist with the soul of a charm-struck miniaturist. A self-described “image maker,” Matton employed drawings, paintings, sculpture and film in a life-long quest to reveal and amplify the nature of the things and people he loved to all who saw his work. His works are drawn from the early European tradition of handmade cabinet houses and the trompe-l'oeil illusions inside 17th-century Dutch perspective boxes. His interiors, real and imagined, elude contemporary categories. Magical, detailed maquettes suggest a child's love of all things Lilliputian, precise, and make-believe.
Born in 1933, Mr. Matton exhibited in his native Paris in the early 1960s 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 part of the time) on contract for Esquire magazine and several French publications. He re-emerged as an artist in 1983 and in 2002 Forum Gallery New York gave him his first show in America. H exhibited regularly until his death in 2008.
Mr. Matton's wizardry with lighting and spatial depth is a distinguishing characteristic. Mirrors are placed to create the illusion of deep space. Meticulously accurate sets, their inventory shaped from cast and carved resin, continue into a distance that is not there. A combination of reflections made by the speculum effect of mirrors mirroring each other creates imaginary expanses. The result is a looking-glass world as formal and fey as that of Carroll's White Knight with his upside-down box.
Many of Mr. Matton's boîtes have been faithful replicas of such pilgrimage sites as Sigmund Freud's study and Marcel Proust's library.
In 2000, the Paris International Contemporary Art Fair, “FIAC”, showed 200 one-person exhibitions for the year 2000; Charles Matton’s installation of multi-media box constructions captivated the enormous audience, including the President of France, Actress Catherine Deneuve, and collectors from all over the world.
Forum Gallery presented Matton’s first American exhibition in 2002. From then until now, Matton’s installations have been enthusiastically reviewed by The New York Times, ARTNews, American Arts Quarterly, ArtForum, and Art in America. Matton’s magical creations are deeply involving; they are meditative and memorable, amusing and arresting, harmonious works of art.
Charles Matton’s paintings, drawings, films and mixed-media constructions are featured in public collections around the world, including the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan; Centre d’Art Contemporain de Frejus, Paris; The Seven Bridges Foundation, Greenwich, CT; 21C Foundation Museum, Louisville, KY; the Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY; and over forty private collections in the United States.