Dates: 1940-1960

Origin: Europe

Key Artists: Jean Dubuffet, Jean-Paul Riopelle

A term coined by the French critic Michel Tapié to describe a type of spontaneous abstract painting popular among European artists in the 1940s and 1950s, roughly equivalent to Abstract Expressionism in the USA. Tapié popularized the term in his book Un art autre (1952), and these two terms—Art Autre and Art Informel—are sometimes used more or less synonymously. They are rarely used with any precision, but some critics regard Art Informel as a narrower term, representing only one aspect of the broader trend of Art Autre (which includes figurative as well as abstract work). In English the term ‘Informalism’ is sometimes used as an equivalent to Art Informel, but the word ‘informel’ (which Tapié himself devised) might be translated as ‘without form’ rather than ‘informal’. Following suggestions made by Kandinsky, Tapié argued that expressive, non-geometrical abstract art is a method of discovery and of communicating intuitive awareness of the fundamental nature of reality.

Chilvers, Ian. “Art Informel.” The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 12 Mar. 2010 <;

Jean-Paul Riopelle

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