Hans Hartung and Jean Paul Riopelle both achieved international recognition as seminal
figures of Art Informel (the European variant of
Abstract Expressionism), which arose in France during World War II. Art Informel is a French term describing a swathe of
approaches to abstract painting which had in common an improvisatory methodology and a
highly gestural technique. Art Informel is a term
which was coined by French critic Michel Tapié in his 1952 book Un Art Autre describing highly informal procedures
of painting, often gestural. Tapié saw this art as « art of another kind » because it
appeared to him as a complete break of tradition.
Through this online viewing room, we proudly present a curated selection of masterworks by
two pioneers of Art Informel.
Concerned with the translation of the inexpressible onto canvas, Hans Hartung's emotional
abstractions eliminated all figurative elements, pursuing such freedom of gesture and
spatial dynamism with a litany of non-traditional tools, including spray guns, brooms and
branches. Balanced between chance and control, Hartung's oeuvre is unexpectedly
pre-meditated. His late painting, much of which was made from the confines of a wheelchair,
is amongst the most vigorous of his near seven-decades-long career, presenting a renewed
sense of freedom, energy and ambition.
Known for his expressive works of thick impasto and chromatic intensity, Jean Paul Riopelle
was a key member of the Art Informel movement. He
was associated initially with the Lyrical Abstraction wing, before becoming more
calligraphic in style. By the early 1950s, Riopelle developed his signature style of
applying paint directly to the canvas by smearing it with a palette knife. His artistic
gesture created an intriguing myriad of geometric volumes and kaleidoscopic surfaces of
colour and brilliance. This improvisatory form of abstraction was closely associated with an
emphasis on the spontaneous and automatic.