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Art Informel

The term Art Informel was originated by the French critic Michel Tapié and popularized in his 1952 book Un Art autre (Another art). A Parisian counterpart of Abstract Expressionism, Art Informel emphasized intuition and spontaneity over the Cubist tradition that had dominated School of Paris painting. The resulting abstractions took a variety of forms. For instance, Pierre Soulages’s black-on-black paintings composed of slashing strokes of velvety paint suggest the nocturnal mood of Europe immediately after the war.

Tachisme (from the French tache, or blot) is a subset of Art Informel that yielded works related to Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionist poured (or “drip”) paintings. The Tachiste Georges Mathieu abandoned brushes entirely, preferring to squeeze paint directly from the tube onto the canvas.

Translating Art Informel as “informal art” or “informalism” is misleading. The point is not that artists renounced their concern for formal values but that they rejected the discipline and structure of geometric abstraction in favor of a less cerebral approach.

Extracts from 'Artspeak' by Robert Atkins (copyright (©) 1990, 1997 by Robert Atkins) reproduced by permission of Abbeville Press, Inc.