Menu Search
About Us
The Art Story Homepage Movements, Styles, and Tendencies Art Informel

Art Informel

Art Informel Collage

Started: 1945

Ended: 1950s

"[T]he ossified and ossifying false order of the past gave way to a fruitful and exhilarating anarchy that, having gained momentum, is now moving toward a new order, a new system of notions commensurate with our potential."

Michel Tapié

Summary of Art Informel

Responding to the atrocities and traumas of World War II, artists associated with Art Informel broke with previous traditions of naturalistic, figurative, and geometric work to embrace anti-compositional forms, gestural techniques, and a Surrealist -influenced spontaneity and irrationality. Coined by critic Michel Tapié, Art Informel was an umbrella term that encompassed an array of styles and artists who, as Tapié described, were not interested in movements but "in something much rarer, authentic Individuals." Tapié included in this grouping European artists as well as Americans, Dutch, and Japanese artists, making Art Informel into an international reaction to world events.

While its diversity has made it a difficult style to define and while it has largely been confined to Europe, eclipsed by Abstract Expressionism, the various styles, including Art Brut, Lyrical Abstraction, Tachisme, Matter Painting, CoBrA, and Gutai have had lasting influence on Neo- Expressionist painters, Post-Minimalist sculptors, and the broad field of Performance Art.

Key Ideas

Art Informel, in all of its guises, relies largely on gestural abstraction, but those gestures often contain various, even contradictory, intentions. From the existential explorations of the Abstract Expressionists to the virtuosic, dramatic performances of Georges Mathieu or the ironic drawings of Asger Jorn, gestural painting allowed the artists to embrace spontaneity and subvert the aesthetic status quo that emerged before World War II.
Despite the stylistic differences, Art Informel confronted the subjects of war, savagery, trauma, death, angst, and irrationality in an effort to come to terms with historical events and to reimagine a new way forward, to fashion a new society.
While the artists were loosely affiliated, the designation Art Informel created a unity that permeated several international exhibitions that echoed contemporaneous international calls for peace and unity.
Art Informel Image


The Abstract Expressionists imbibed the lessons of the early-20th century European avant-garde, including Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, and the Surrealists - as they moved from quasi-representational forms to their abstract signature styles during and after World War II, but even the earliest accounts of the group by legendary critics Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg emphasized the American identity of the group. By many accounts, however, the radical artistic freedom and autonomy embraced by the Abstract Expressionists was seen as encouragement by artists in parts of Europe, the Soviet Union, and Latin America. That being said, as art historian Joan Marter points out, the Abstract Expressionists' "intention to release subjective response, hail the importance of chance, and continue the exploration of the subconscious" was shared with international artists, including those associated with Art Informel. While the Europeans may have been aware of the Pollock and de Kooning by the early 1950s, artists such as Jean Dubuffet and Asger Jorn had already embarked on their own journeys toward abstraction.

Most Important Art

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterSave on PinterestSend In Facebook MessengerSend In WhatsApp
Support Us