Tachisme – The Abstract Art Movement of the French 🇫🇷

Tachisme is frequently used interchangeably with art informel or Lyrical Abstraction to refer to the abstract art movement that flourished in Europe, particularly France, in the late 1940s and 1950s. To separate the Impressionists’ work from the more studied technique of the Impressionists, Félix Fénéon coined the term “tachiste” in 1899. The name is derived from a French word that refers to a blot, stain, or mark, and it underlines the work’s spontaneous gestural aspect. It thus refers to the branch of Informel Art that is closest to automatism in spirit and technique.

The painted marks are presented as virtually unmediated by the conscious mind and directly counterpart to American Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, and Sam Francis. Though the phrase is commonly used more broadly, it best describes the work of artists such as Hans Hartung, Wols, Georges Mathieu, Henri Michaux, and Pierre Soulages when used in this way. In works like Capetians Everywhere, Mathieu, for example, used a gestural, calligraphic approach (1954; Paris, Pompidou). On the other hand, other painters linked with Art informel, such as Jean Bazaine, Alfred Manessier, and Serge Poliakoff, prefered a more controlled approach to composition and colour application.

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