Art Term

Tachisme

Term used to describe the non-geometric abstract art that developed in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and scribble-like marks

Sam Francis, ‘Around the Blues’ 1957–62
Sam Francis
Around the Blues 1957–62
Tate
© Estate of Sam Francis/ ARS, NY & DACS, London 2017
Jean Dubuffet, ‘The Exemplary Life of the Soil (Texturology LXIII)’ 1958
Jean Dubuffet
The Exemplary Life of the Soil (Texturology LXIII) 1958
Tate
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017
Sam Francis, ‘Painting’ 1957
Sam Francis
Painting 1957
Tate
© Estate of Sam Francis/ ARS, NY & DACS, London 2017

Tachisme was the European equivalent to abstract expressionism in America. The name derives from the French word ‘tache’, meaning a stain or splash (e.g. of paint).

The introduction of the term to describe these post-war developments is usually credited to the critic Pierre Guéguen in 1951. However, it was used in 1889 by the critic Félix Fénéon to describe the impressionist technique, and again in 1909 by the artist Maurice Denis referring to the fauve painters.

Tachisme is virtually synonymous with art informel.