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Michel Tapié (Michel Tapié de Céleyran, 26 February 1909 – 30 July 1987) was an internationally active French critic, curator, and collector of art. He was an early and influential theorist and practitioner of "tachisme", which is generally regarded as the European equivalent of abstract expressionism. Tapié was from an old and aristocratic French family; he was also a second cousin once removed ("petit-cousin") of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (the painter's mother Adèle Tapié de Celeyran was his great-aunt).
Art of another kind
Michel Tapié's 1952 book (sometimes referred to and anthologized as an "essay") entitled Un art autre, most commonly rendered in English as "Art of Another Kind", was immensely influential in establishing a European approach to and embrace of what in the U.S. is generally termed abstract expressionism, and especially the subgenres of action painting and lyrical abstraction. Herschel B. Chipp's Theories of Modern Art: a Source Book for Artists and Critics (1968; see list of references below), includes an English translation of an extensive portion of that work (pp. 603–605). "L'art Informel" was Tapié's general term for art reflecting the sensibility described in this manifesto.
According to the Guggenheim Collection's art-historical glossary entry on "l'art informel" (see External links), Tapié, in his 1952 book, "was trying to define a tendency in postwar European painting that he saw as a radical break with all traditional notions of order and composition —including those of Modernism.... He used the term Art Informel (from the French informe, meaning unformed or formless) to refer to the antigeometric, antinaturalistic, and nonfigurative formal preoccupations of these artists, stressing their pursuit of spontaneity, looseness of form, and the irrational.... Artists who became associated with Art Informel include Enrico Donati, Lucio Fontana, Agenore Fabbri, Alberto Burri, Asger Jorn, Emil Schumacher, Kazuo Shiraga, Antoni Tàpies, and Jiro Yoshihara."
Globe-trotting promoter of modern art
Chipp notes that Tapié's importance to Avant-garde art, beginning in the mid-1940s, was "not only as an author of books, criticism, and exhibition catalogues, but also as an organizer of exhibitions of contemporary art in Europe, Latin America, and Japan, and as an adviser to galleries throughout the world" (p. 591). In 1952, Tapié wrote the catalogue for, and helped to organize, Jackson Pollock’s first solo exhibition in Paris, which took place at the Studio Paul Facchetti (see Tapié's essay/catalogue listed below). The French lyrical abstractionist (or tachiste) Georges Mathieu was another artist of whom Tapié was an early champion (see catalogue below).
In 1960, with architect Luigi Moretti it:Luigi Moretti (architetto), Tapié co-founded the International Center of Aesthetic Research in Turin, Italy [Chipp, p. 591], a facility for the study and exhibition of art, as well as for the publication and dissemination of critical, investigative, or theoretical works on art. The Center, which closed its doors not long after the death of Tapié in 1987, also housed a museum with a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art. In Japan, Tapié was an important associate of the Gutai Group, which was a formative influence on the Fluxus movement. Tapié organized and curated scores of exhibitions of new and modern art in major cities all over the world, including not only Paris and Turin but also New York, Rome, Tokyo, Munich, Madrid, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Milan, and Osaka.
In the words of Saint John of the Cross, 'To reach the unknown, you must pass through the unknown.' Academicism--finished for good, isn't it?
- Chipp, Herschel B.. Theories of modern art; a source book by artists and critics (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1968)
- Le Pichon, Yann ; and Jean Louis Ferrier. Art of our century : the chronicle of western art, 1900 to the present [Walter D. Glanze, English translation] (New York : Prentice Hall Editions, 1989) ISBN 0-13-011644-0, ISBN 978-0-13-011644-4 9780130116444 0130116440 [contains extensive material concerning Tapié's Un Art Autre (1952)]
- Moretti, Luigi; Michel Tapié. Le baroque généralisé : manifeste du baroque ensembliste (Torino : Edizioni del Dioscuro, 1965) OCLC 57403312
- Tapié, Michel. Un art autre où il s'agit de nouveaux dévidages du réel (Paris, Gabriel-Giraud et fils, 1952) OCLC 1110556
- Antoni Tàpies and Michel Tapié. Antonio Tapies [sic], New York, G. Wittenborn, 1959. OCLC 1090149 [Note: this Worldcat listing gives the painter's first name as "Antonio" in the title, also omitting the accent mark in the surname. Despite the similar surnames, the two men were unrelated.]
- Tapié, Michel; Paul Jenkins; Esther Jenkins. Observations (New York, G. Wittenborn, 1956) OCLC 1127301
- Tapié, Michel. Elaine Hamilton: Exhibition of Paintings (Osaka, Japan: Fujikawa Gallery), April 12–18, 1961. OCLC 81011323
- Tapié, Michel. Hans Hofmann : peintures 1962 : 23 avril-18 mai 1963. (Paris: Galerie Anderson-Mayer, 1963.) [exhibition catalogue and commentary: Tapié was a great admirer of Hans Hofmann] OCLC: 62515192
- Tapié, Michel. Pollock (Paris, P. Facchetti, 1952) OCLC: 30601793
- Tapié, Michel; Instituto Torquato de di Tella. Centro de Artes Visuales. Intuiciones y realizaciones formales : exposición de obras seleccionadas por Michel Tapié, Centro de Artes Visuales, Instituto Torcuato di Tella ... Buenos Aires ... del 14 de agosto al 4 de setiembre de 1964 (Worldcat link: ) (Buenos Aires: El Instituto, 1964) OCLC 7889303
- Jirō Yoshihara; Shōzō Shimamoto; Michel Tapié; Gutai Bijutsu Kyōkai. Gutai [= 具体] (具体美術協会, Nishinomiya-shi : Gutai Bijutsu Kyōkai, 1955–1965) [Japanese : Serial Publication : Periodical] OCLC 53194339 [Worldcat "Other titles" information: Gutai art exhibition, Aventure informelle, International art of a new era, U.S.A., Japan, Europe, International Sky Festival, Osaka, 1960]
- COLOR IMAGE of a Michel Tapié painting (via an auction record at artnet.de)
- Information on Michel Tapié at www.the-artists.org
- Works by or about Michel Tapié in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Guggenheim collection: art-historical glossary entry elucidating the term "art informel"
- Guggenheim Museum Pollock bio mentioning his first Paris show in 1952
- L'exposition "Tapié: un art autre": Information on 1997 Tapié exhibition in Toulouse
- Fluxugenova historical essay on Fluxus mentioning the formative influence of the Gutaj group and its connection to Michel Tapié