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

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  • Sam Francis, 'Around the Blues' 1957/62
    Sam Francis
    Around the Blues 1957/62
    Oil and acrylic on canvas
    support: 2751 x 4871 mm
    Purchased 1964© Estate of Sam Francis/ ARS, NY & DACS, London 2002
  • Jean Dubuffet, 'The Exemplary Life of the Soil (Texturology LXIII)' 1958
    Jean Dubuffet
    The Exemplary Life of the Soil (Texturology LXIII) 1958
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1295 x 1619 mm
    frame: 1360 x 1681 x 65 mm
    Purchased 1966© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002
  • Sam Francis, 'Painting' 1957
    Sam Francis
    Painting 1957
    Watercolour on paper
    support: 629 x 486 mm
    Purchased 1957© Estate of Sam Francis/ ARS, NY & DACS, London 2002

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.