Michel Tapié

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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[edit]

Michel Tapié de Céleyran by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, (1894)

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."[1]

Globe-trotting promoter of modern art[edit]

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,[2] 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?[3]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Art Informel". Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. 
  2. ^ "What We Talk About When We Talk About Fluxus". 
  3. ^ "from Michel Tapié's Un art autre", 1952), as quoted (in translation) in Art of our century (1988), page 495

External links[edit]