Un Art Autre (Art of Another Kind) is also known as Art Informel which is often used as an umbrella term that encompasses the development of various European Post-War movements, such as Lyrical Abstraction, Nouvelle École de Paris, Tachisme and the CoBrA Movement.
Emerging in France after World War II, Art Informel became a counter-part to the popular growing American Abstract Expressionism movement which surfaced at the same time in the US. The Americans and their European contemporaries shared similar values in the aftermath of the War, as art shifted towards separating itself from past traditions and restrictions. Representation and realism were no longer paramount after the atrocities that had taken place. As a result, artists focused on expression through innovative, spontaneous gestures that were not determined by predefined forms or structures. The term Un Art Autre was first coined by art critic Michael Tapié in his book of the same title in 1952. He summarised that past progressive groups such as the Impressionists and Cubists were ‘superficial revolutionaries’ who falsely believed that they had broken free from the traditional concept of beauty and form; in actuality, by challenging these concepts they were still addressing them, thus inadvertently keeping them at the foundation of their work. Later in 1952, Tapié curated an exhibition titled Art Informel at Studio Facchetti, in Paris, which solidified what he believed to be the real revolution in art: that which had its structure based in the unknown.
Our exhibition Un Art Autre, named after Tapié’s infamous manifesto, features works by the revolutionary figures who exhibited in Tapié‘s show. The works chosen date from 1947 to 1981, illustrating not only the development and progression of the artists associated with Art Informel but also that their art should be free from control and experimental in expression. Spontaneity is a key element of these ideologies and is displayed in Karel Appel’s painting Sans Titre, 1954 through the thick and rapid application of saturated colours sweeping across the canvas. Consequently, the heavy multiple layers of impasto transform the surface of the canvas to become almost sculptural. The work is also reminiscent of the Surrealists’ Automatism, a technique that was favoured by Art Informel artists where one was required to suppress conscious control over the process of construction, allowing the unconscious mind to govern.
The importance placed on the action and method is also made clear in Jean Dubuffet’s Aire Mediane Claire, 1959. The work belongs to his Texturologies series and depicts soil without a specific structure, where texture and process take precedence over form. Dubuffet would often use unconventional tools for the application of oil in his work, abandoning the paint brush and instead used small tree branches or juniper berries, and at times even incorporated the raw materials into the surface his canvases.
This exhibition Un Art Autre commemorates this important shift in Post-War art in Europe and draws attention to artists such as Otto Wols, Georges Mathieu and Gustav Singier, who played pivotal roles in activating this movement and have been previously overlooked and under-celebrated.
Featured artists: Karel Appel | Jean Dubuffet | Sam Francis | Hans Hartung | Willem de Kooning | Georges Mathieu | Jean-Paul Riopelle | Gustave Singier | Pierre Soulages | Nicholas de Staël | Maria Helena Vieira da Silva | Otto Wols