“ARE THERE ANY READERS of ARTnews who wish to join me in sending a pair of sterling silver roller skates, suitably engraved, to Georges Mathieu so that he may redo his I WAS THERE dance routine of the Battle of Bouvines into a big Blitzkrieg production?”¹ So begins a sarcastic letter Barnett Newman wrote to the editor of Art News in February 1955. Newman was reacting to the magazine’s publication that month of the most recent installment in its series featuring well-known painters at work. With text by critic Michel Tapié and photographs by cinematographer Robert Descharnes, “Mathieu Paints a Picture” offered readers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the French painter’s largest and most celebrated painting to date, La Bataille de Bouvines (The Battle of Bouvines), 1954. In that work, which consists of a broad beige field covered with a mix of ropy skeins, pronounced splatters,

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