Tachisme is derived from the French word., tache: ‘spot’ or ‘Blotch’. It is associated with nuances such as ‘Art informal ‘(art without form) , ‘Art Autre’ (other art) and ‘lyrical abstraction’ and was popular in Europe in the late 1940’s-50’s. Tachisme was primary a French phenomenon with artists such as Fautrier, Mathieu and Wols leading the way. It has a style which is more suave, sensual and more concerned with beautiful handling than the work of the Abstract Expressionist, which can be aggressive and raw in comparison when reviewing the observable differences practiced within this particular painting movement. The word Tachisme was also used in the 19th century when referring to the Impressionists. (Chilvers P.615)
Action Painting is a type of painting where the act of painting is an event and may be more significant than the outcome of the act. The energetic gestural movements , the uncontrollable dripping, splashing and manipulating the paint towards a surface is carried out without preconceived ideas. It is misleading to attach this with Abstract Expressionism as it is considered part of this movement, but not all abstract expression is action painting. The action of the act is a moment where the artist is able to be free to express along with there creative instinct. Harold Rosenberg called it ‘not a picture but an event’. (Chilvers. P.7) It also has connotation links with American wildness or freedom, in the above passage I mentioned the European equivalent (Tachisme) was much more suave than the madness of the American style. This wildness was an explanation of the artistic freedom being acted out as ‘action painting’. Pollock explains that when he works on such a large scale, that he becomes part of the painting, he doesn’t see where it starts and its ending, he is interacting with the paint and a surface, he is the applicator. This is very similar to Monet’s practice, where he works very closer to the painting and is painting an impression of the light and the subject; the water lilies in paint on massive panels with large brush work. The difference is that Pollock works with gravity and conveys no subject and lays his surface on the floor where Monet is more traditional, conveying a subject such as light and works with his canvas in an upright position. They Both wanted to be part of the work. “I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. Painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess “. Pollock. Foster. P.350 Art since 1900.
As MoMA curator ,Ann Temkin explains about Monet’s water lilies, ‘All the normal markers, like the edge of the water or the sky or the distant trees, have disappeared, and you’re just right in the face of those water lilies and the surface of the water with the clouds reflected from above you become lost in this expanse of water and of light.
I wrote ‘both artists wanted to be part of the work’ I am referring to a desire of escapism from reality. If we can recover our own surroundings with art, then reality becomes a form of art. This idea relates to the fable by Jorge Borges called ‘The exactitude of science’. Jean Baudrillard referred to this fable in his essay called Simulacra and Simulations (1988) . In this essay he describes a reality that is intrinsic with simulating a form of reality that it is no longer real. The fable explains that a map was drawn so detailed and proportionate that it covered the territory that the map was depicting, then generations later the map became weathered, some tattered ruins remain, still inhabited by animal’s and people. I am gesturing that many artists would be much happier if they could immense themselves in there creativities, their world and surround themselves with art. It would become their simulacrum, their reality.
Abstract Expressionism Born 1947;
Was a term coined later on in 1952, represented the fact of the groups very diverse talents under this term abstract expressionisms umbrella, homogenizing and unifying a cast of charters, whom are individual artist in there own style but all share a common longing to translate private feelings and emotions directly onto a surface without any figurative content. This need to express oneself with out the need to lean on nature for an opportunity to express themselves, anchoring there emotions on the figurative side. This letting go of a narrative and traditional forms of art, could have been categorized as decorative patterns.
‘…a horizontal antiform as an abstractness un-colonized by the vertical one’. Art since 1900. Hal Foster.p.359.
The idea that Pollock was an action painter created another dimension to artistry , not just the finished work but the process of creating was kept behind studio doors , not available to the public.
‘…consumers who appreciated artistic innovation as evidence of the natural creativity of the human spirits’. Art and Propaganda by Toby Clark. P.8.
During this period of time we see artists creating in a way that was opposing technology and the popularity of cameras. The need to paint reproducing natural forms was superseded by the reproduction of nature within a photograph. The Camera was automatic and so was a movement called automatism; a term is borrowed from physiology, where it describes bodily movements that are not consciously controlled like breathing. From <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/automatism>
Artist such as Max Ernst, Joan Miro and Andre Masson were surrealist artist but practiced with methods of trance painting where they tried to stop there consciousness state intervene. This style of spontaneity as a concept is associated with the ideas of free will and was the ethos of Americanisation. The opportunity to be fortunate enough to make something that represents themselves , that issues entirely from their hands and minds , and which they can affix their names to is considered the role of an Expressionist artist. This again resonates alongside Impressionism, as suggested in the above text. An artist that expresses and an artist that creates a work that is a depiction of there perception, there impression. Unfortunately the Automatism became regarded as Autographic. Pollock’s work is very spontaneous but also recognizable as a Pollock. His work became known , hence his trademark or and artistic logo. It looked less spontaneous and less automatic and more conscionable. Abstract Expressionism became a paradox of itself. Robert Rauschenberg who attended Black Mountain college where many of the group had attended explained...’I was never interested in their pessimism or editorializing. You have to have time to feel sorry for yourself if you’re going to be a good Abstract Expressionist and I think I always considered that a waste’. Art since 1900. p.354.
Image 1- Han Hartung from the Tate web site on 26.6.2017 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hartung-t1963-r6-t00816>
Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artist by Ian Chilvers. Fourth edition. 2009 OXFORD university Press. Oxford.
Art Since 1900 by Hal Foster. Thames and Hudson publishers. 2004 London.
Art and Propaganda by Toby Clark . Orion Publishing. London. 1997.