Lyrical abstraction refers to the art movement from about 1945 to 1970. It has two main branches, one of which is European and the other American. Although they have many similarities, they differ in that they can sometimes adopt very different directions and methods.
The birth of a very specific artistic movement
This particular mode of expression was chosen because this movement wanted to distinguish itself from all the other abstract forms that existed at the time, such as geometric abstraction or constructivism. Although it has something in common with the latter, namely a perfect hypothesis and a totally non-figurative form of expression, lyrical abstraction must first and foremost reflect the direct expression of personal emotion. It is therefore the depth of the artist’s emotion that dominates the whole. For this reason, lyrical abstraction requires a very specific pictorial writing since the advance towards this abstract emotional language is carried out through colour, notably through gestures. His first meeting with the public took place under the guidance of two passionate art world figures, the painter George Matthew and Jean José Marchand. For more information, please visit Estades.
The European branch: a very liberated big sister
Unlike its counterpart on the other side of the Atlantic, European lyrical abstraction has a precise date of birth, 1947. After three years, Tachism, its main current, was precisely defined by the critics Charles Estienne, Pierre Guéguen and Michel Tapié, the great advocate. Lyrical abstraction spread in France and Europe in the mid-1950s. It is a very gestural style of painting, using the scene as the main protagonist of the canvas, hence its name. Consequently, the spontaneous spraying of paint gives this line a “spiritual seismograph look”. Hans Hartung, a French artist born in Germany, has been pursuing pure and free expression since 1920.
The American branch: a wiser little sister
The European wave of lyrical abstraction hit the New World almost simultaneously, but this American version was not theorised until 1969. Nevertheless, the American wave was highly creative and productive from the start. It differed from the European one in two respects: on the one hand, it was a response to what had been done in Europe, and on the other hand, it evolved into a new language of the image. Originating in New York in the 1940s and 1950s, unlike action painting, the Color Field painting movement claimed to be part of Abstract Expressionism.