BIG & little (Pierre Mayer) – By Deana Murray


The world, according to Pierre Mayer, is enamored with BIG and GRAND. It plays well on stage. But Pierre has often felt that behind these extra-large illusions could be versions of something you could hold in your hand. So, in the span of the somewhat recent years of his “retirement,” Pierre has taken the lead in the ‘BIG and little’ art form of AUTOMATONS. “Recreating an illusion (of magic) in miniature is the added challenge. It’s like playing chess without the bishops or the queens.” He wanted to make wooden automata in a different way… “If for no other reason than to impress my old time friend and mentor, Christian Fechner.” When that happened, the magic of the “little” became what is now – thimble sized – and Pierre became really BIG!


O.K. Some of his background plays significantly into his thoughts; his attention to detail, his love of magic, his personal choices in lifestyle and friendships, his goal of artistic perfection. And he’s FRENCH! Born in Paris, his love of magic and initial instructions came from his father, who owned a magic shop when Pierre was young. He also learned from his father’s friends, none other than, David Bamberg and Richiardi Jr.

Pierre’s life has taken him in many different directions. Ultimately, one never knows what set of skills, choices or insights, friendships or events will shape our lives. We began talking, ‘… et la magie du passé ressurgit en un instant.’ {…and the magic of years past came flooding back in a moment.} Pierre is essentially – the sum of his parts. He says, “It’s been a great life; but not all of it was good. I went where the passion took me.” He has a great memory, and a great many stories told with a quick wit.

Here are a few of Pierre’s His art inclination for oil painting led him to the Louvres Museum in Paris where he painted reproductions of masters in his early years for the museum. This translated into painting portraits of contemporary people in the style of those masters ‘for a while.’ His next direction was opening up what became a chain of 5 electronic stores where he developed an extreme knowledge of how things work and with what parts. When he expanded with a Video Division, in the early days, this was quite a phenomenon. And when he began taping magic, it was evolutionary. Among those to agree to come to Paris and be “captured in time” were Ed Marlo, Larry Jennings, Michael Ammar, Finn Jon, and even a young Gaetan Bloom.

His closest friendships have centered around Christian Fechner, famous film producer, whose “hobby” was magic, and a Winner at the 1979 FISM in Brussels. Until 2007, Christian lead the charge for the others whom Pierre calls the… “Four Muskateers”… Moras (Porthos), Gilles Mageux (Aramis), Georges Proust (D’Artagnan) and Pierre (Athos). My image is an atmosphere of fun and infinite possibilities… somewhat on the edge of genius and chaos… even today.


Pierre’s hobbies varied, but always included collecting mechanical music, vintage toys and automata. So when he “RETIRED”… he collected his thoughts, his skills, his love of magic and magician friends… and came upon the idea of making his own “works of performance magic using unusual methods or devices.” He says, “Magnets became predominant in leading to new possibilities.” Once he began working out the details to articulate wood and wires, he gave his attention toward “animating personality into the performance of an independent action.”

Much like a marionette whose actions stand alone [the audience is in disregard of the strings], automatons are seen independent of the person holding them. And, there must be a “surprise element” like that of a ‘Jack in the box’ who pops out at the turning of a crank. Pierre is just that! His ideas bring to life inanimate objects. His objects have heart and personality, and a playful sense of humor. The performance of magic is from an unknown source given freely to the audience. The surprise is… Pierre’s work is instantly recognizable, but Pierre is relatively unknown to the world “at large.”


He’s been honored, both formally and informally. The Academy of Magical Arts awarded to him a Creative Fellowship at the Magic Castle in 2009. “In recognition of a career of artistic innovation… His amazing miniature automata are, by virtue of their exquisite designs, delightful representations of his prolific creativity, and are treasured by magicians and collectors throughout the world.” He’s received gratitude and admiration in personal letters from icons like Siegfried and Roy. “Your workmanship is pure perfection. We applaud your remarkable gift and your ability to translate our original “Metamorphosis” into a tangible Masterpiece.”

Pierre pays tribute to the artists and the art form of magic. He moves through a crowd of magicians like the straight pin that moves his apparatus in performance of an illusion. He is famous amongst his peers. He is infamous – to his friends. In perspective and presentation… Pierre Mayer is the master of “BIG and little.”