It was the French critic Michel Tapié who introduced the term Informal art in 1951, during the exhibitions Véhémences confrontées (Galerie Nina Dausset, Paris) and Signifiants de l’informel (Studio Faccheti, Paris).

He sketched out the theory in 1952 in Un art autre, particularly in relation to the pâté of Dubuffet, Fautrier and Wols before the term was coined and a mythical figure around which the exhibitions of this trend organised by Bryen and Mathieu from 1947-1948 were based.

The approaches of these painters, although different, share certain characteristics:

  • rejection of premeditated construction
  • spontaneity of execution,
  • abandonment to the virtues of gesture and the physical properties of matter.

One could distinguish an informal art with a figurative tendency (Dubuffet, Fautrier and Wols).

An aniconic tendency (Hartung, another reference figure, Soulages, Schneider, Atlan, Bryen, Michaux, or the Canadian Automatists, Riopelle, Borduas, Leduc), which is more or less identical to the gestural definition of lyrical abstraction.

Informal art developed in the decade between the 1950s and 1960s.

It stood in opposition to anything that had a form, whether figurative or purely abstract.

A characteristic feature of informal art, apart from the invention of new painting techniques, is the use of novel materials, which the artists considered to be the real protagonists of their works. Alberto Burri‘s canvases, plastic and burnt wood, but also Lucio Fontana‘s holes.

Piero Dorazio
Piero Dorazio art informel