Un art autre

Un art autre (2019) centers on the innovative reassessments of abstraction that emerged in postwar Paris. Un art autre, a term meaning “Art of another kind” was coined by legendary art critic and curator Michel Tapié in 1952 regarding work by artists who provided a distinctively European parallel to the American Abstract Expressionist movement. This exhibition offered insight into the allure of Paris in the 1950s and ’60s: a hub of cross-cultural exchange, intellectual activity, and artistic reinvention. It features works by artists Sam Francis, Joan Mitchell, Jean Paul Riopelle, Pierre Soulages, and Zao Wou-Ki.

In the wake of the traumatic ruptures of the Second World War, artists were moved to radically deconstruct form and create new aesthetic landscapes rooted in dynamism, vitality, and gestural freedom. Tapié became the spokesperson for this movement in his book Un art autre (1952) and its accompanying exhibition. The subtitle of his book, Où il s’agit de nouveaux dévidages du réel (“where dealing with new unwindings of the real”), encapsulates the motivating sensibility behind this drive to break with traditional notions of composition and order. By “unwinding” naturalism, figuration, and geometric form, these artists sought a visual language that might piece together a shattered world.

Un art autre illuminates the intersections of the local and the global as artists, philosophers, poets, and academics from around the world gathered in Paris during this moment of intense creation. On the occasion of the exhibition, New York–based filmmaker and biographer Lisa Immordino Vreeland made a short film lending insight into the atmosphere of Paris during the 1950s and ’60s, capturing the zeitgeist of the era and offering a portrait of these artists as they came together in the city.

Selected Artworks

    • Zao Wou-Ki
    • 16.09.69, 1969
    • Oil on canvas
    • 31⅞ × 51³⁄₁₆ inches (81 × 130 cm)
    • Pierre Soulages
    • Peinture 195 × 130 cm, 3 février 1957, 1957
    • Oil on canvas
    • 76¾ × 51³⁄₁₆ inches (195 × 130 cm)
    • Sam Francis
    • Arcueil, 1956/58
    • Oil on canvas
    • 80¾ × 76 inches (205.1 × 193 cm)
    • Jean-Paul Riopelle
    • Horizontal, Black and White, 1955
    • Oil on canvas
    • 28¾ × 36¼ inches (73 × 92 cm)