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Informel (fr. informel art – shapeless art) is a term used to describe the type of contemporary painting, which was founded in the 50s of the twentieth century.

The name was first used just after World War II (1945). It was first used by Georges Mathieu and was popularized in 1951, through exhibitions organized under this name, by critique Michael Tapie.

Informel is an informal variant of abstract expressionism, which developed mainly in France and the USA. It was a reaction to the rigors of geometric abstraction, and the rules of neoplasticism. In informel the focus is on spontaneous, formless compositional systems.

This genre of contemporary art was characterized by a desire to free expression and the creation of images on the principle of a coincidence. Such an effect was achieved through the use of colorful spots or lines that have not been subjected to any rigors of composition, limiting dramatic character of the work of art. This direction in contemporary art focused on the experimental method of creating, using different materials, such as glass, wood, sand, cans or garbage. Freedom and individuality in creation were characteristic for artists who were painting in this way. They presented in their works states and experiences evoked by empirical or sensuous impression, not a real and accurate representations. Creating the painting  was based on the free, spontaneous manipulation of matter, such as bending the canvas or spilling, splashing the paint. Often they also ride a bike on canvas, in order to get the creative effect of the work. The method of automaticity was also used (they spontaneously reported ideas emerging in the unconscious on canvas). All this was to reflect states of mind of the artist, with an indication of the dynamism and the enormous emotional load. Thus informel was also called - "gesture painting".

Types of informel:

  • tachisme (often used as a replacement, synonym of informel),
  • matter painting,
  • action painting,
  • calligraphic panting.
The representatives of this formless art were:
  • Jackson Pollock,
  • Wols,
  • Hans Hartung,
  • Henri Michaux,
  • Jean Fautrier,
  • Jean Dubuffet,
  • Antoni Tapies.

In the Polish art the art informel appeared in 1956. In socialist realism period, it was the most modern way of painting. Artists who were creating in this way were: T. Kantor, J. Tchorzewski, J. Ziemski.