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 & Accomplishments
- 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.
Overview of Art Informel
Danish artist Asger Jorn, a founding member of CoBrA (and very much a part of Art Informel movement), was known for fighting against capitalism in art so much so that he rejected the prestigious Guggenheim Prize in 1964, famously telling Harry Guggenheim: “Go to hell with your money.”