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Exhibition

Signifiants de l'informel 2020

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Key takeaways

1. A curated presentation which features the key representatives of Art Informel during post-war Paris, including Serge Poliakoff, Nicolas de Staël, Pierre Soulages, Georges Mathieu, Karel Appel, Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun and Lalan

2. Art Informel refers to an art movement from the 1940–1950s, that includes all the abstract and gestural practices developed in France and in Europe parallel to American Abstract Expressionism

Signifiants de l’informel 2020 features the key representatives of Art Informel during post-war Paris, namely Serge Poliakoff (1900-1969), Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955), Pierre Soulages (b.1919), Georges Mathieu (1921-2012), Karel Appel (1921-2006), Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), Chu Teh-Chun (1920-2014) and Lalan (1921-1995).

Art Informel refers to an art movement from the 1940–1950s, that includes all the abstract and gestural practices developed in France and in Europe parallel to American Abstract Expressionism. In the aftermath of World War II, artists attempted to break from the traditionalism of École de Paris and the cold formalism of geometric abstraction. They sought a visual language that emphasized calligraphic brushwork and the tactile quality of the paint, giving shape to their subconscious state and sensibilities.

The term “Art Informel” was coined by the French art critic Michel Tapié in 1951 to describe these dominant styles of abstract art that advocated automatism and gestural technique. Tapié later used a different term, "art autre" (art of another kind), in his 1952 book Un Art Autre to describe non-geometric abstract art. However, Art Informel seems to be the term favoured by most art critics. Several distinguishing trends are identified within the movement, such as lyrical abstraction, New Paris School, Tachisme, etc.

The title of the present exhibition, Signifiants de l’informel, echoes two exhibitions both curated by Michel Tapié in 1951 and 1952 respectively. They brought together Parisian and American abstract artists to illustrate the new aesthetic landscapes of the European Art Informel and American Abstract Expressionism.

Paying tribute to the insight of Michel Tapié, this exhibition will showcase abstract artists from France, Russia and China who embarked on their artistic journey in Paris, providing a comparative study of their art from the perspective of the 21st century while highlighting the cross-influence of Oriental calligraphic traditions and lyrical abstract expressions between them.