Tachisme 1945 – 1960

Term often used interchangeably with art informel or Lyrical Abstraction and applied to the movement in abstract art that flourished in Europe, especially in France, in the late 1940s and 1950s As early as 1899 Félix Fénéon referred to the work of the Impressionists as ‘tachiste’ to distinguish it from the more studied technique of the Derived from the French word signifying a blot, stain or mark, the term emphasizes the spontaneous gestural quality that characterizes much of this work It thus refers more specifically to the branch of Art informel closest in spirit and technique to automatism, in that the painted marks are presented as virtually unmediated by the conscious mind, and as a direct counterpart to the work of American Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Sam Francis Though often used more generally, thus defined the term best describes the work of artists such as Hans Hartung, Wols , Georges Mathieu, Henri Michaux and Pierre Soulages Mathieu, for instance, adopted a gestural, calligraphic style in works such as Capetians Everywhere (1954; Paris, Pompidou) By contrast other painters associated with Art informel, for example Jean Bazaine, Alfred Manessier and Serge Poliakoff, favoured a more controlled approach both in their composition and in their use of colour

Tachisme (alternative spelling: Tachism, derived from the French word tache, stain) is a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s The term is said to have been first used with regards to the movement in 1951 It is often considered to be the European equivalent to abstract expressionism, although there are stylistic differences (American abstract expressionism tended to be more “aggressively raw” than tachisme) It was part of a larger postwar movement known as Art Informel (or Informel), which abandoned geometric abstraction in favour of a more intuitive form of expression, similar to action painting Another name for Tachism is Abstraction lyrique (related to American Lyrical Abstraction) COBRA is also related to Tachisme, as is Japan’s Gutai group

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After World War II the term School of Paris often referred to Tachisme, the European equivalent of American abstract expressionism Important proponents were Jean-Paul Riopelle, Wols, Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Soulages, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, Gérard Schneider, Serge Poliakoff, Georges Mathieu and Jean Messagier, among several others (See list of artists below)

According to Chilvers, the term tachisme “was first used in this sense in about 1951 (the French critics Charles Estienne and Pierre Guéguen have each been credited with coining it) and it was given wide currency by [French critic and painter] Michel Tapié in his book Un Art autre (1952)”

Tachisme was a reaction to Cubism and is characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube, and sometimes scribbling reminiscent of calligraphy

Tachisme is closely related to Informalism or Art Informel, which, in its 1950s French art-critical context, referred not so much to a sense of “informal art” as “a lack or absence of form itself”–non-formal or un-form-ulated–and not a simple reduction of formality or formalness Art Informel was more about the absence of premeditated structure, conception or approach (sans cérémonie) than a mere casual, loosened or relaxed art procedure