Lyrical Abstraction is a style of painting that emerged towards the end of the 1940s. The term Lyrical Abstraction was coined by the French painter Georges Mathieu in 1947. (French abstraction lyrique) for a group of French painters who are regarded as precursors and representatives of Informel. Instead of the constructive and geometric elements of abstract painting, Lyrical Abstraction used spontaneous improvisations and directly artistically transposed sensations.
European Lyrical Abstraction was an art movement born in Paris in the 1940s with the "Nouvelle École de Paris" after the Second World War. At that time, France was trying to rediscover its own identity - including artistic identity - after the Occupation and the Collaboration.
Some art critics saw the new abstraction as an attempt to restore Paris to the artistic status as the capital of art that the city had before the war. Lyrical Abstraction was also an artistic competition between Paris and the new American school of painting, Abstract Expressionism, which was emerging in New York City through artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and many others. One therefore also speaks of the (Second) École de Paris as opposed to the New York School.
Lyrical Abstraction was not only in opposition to the preceding Cubist and Surrealist movements, but also to Geometric Abstraction (or "cold abstraction"). Lyrical Abstraction was considered one of the first consistent implementations of the teachings of Wassily Kandinsky, as one of the fathers of abstraction. For artists in France, Lyrical Abstraction was a new possibility of personal expression.
The Galerie Drouin in Paris was one of the centres of Lyrical Abstraction, where many exhibitions were held. The works of Jean Le Moal, Gustave Singier, Alfred Manessier, Roger Bissière, Wols and others were shown here.
The style received a particular boost when Georges Mathieu organised two important exhibitions: "Abstraction Lyrique" at the Palais du Luxembourg in 1947 and then the exhibition "HWPSMTB" (with Hans Hartung, Wols, Francis Picabia, the sculptor François Stahly, Georges Mathieu, Michel Tapié and Camille Bryen) in 1948. As the predominant art movement, however, Lyrical Abstraction was displaced towards the end of the 1950s (from 1957) by New Realism, which was defended by the art critic Pierre Restany. Yves Klein also broke the boundaries of this style with his Anthropométries, among others, which take up improvisation but use figurative elements.
Lyrical Abstraction in the U.S. was a U.S. abstract art movement that took place primarily in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and then also in Toronto and London in the 1960s to 1970s.
American Lyrical Abstraction was characterised by intuitive and loose use of colour, spontaneous expression, illusionistic spaces, use of acrylic paints, process paintings and paintings using other painting techniques and new technological processes. Lyrical Abstraction described a direction away from minimalism in painting towards a new path towards a freer expressionism.
Lyrical Abstraction painters reacted against the prevailing Formalism (including Pop Art) and Geometric Abstraction in the style of the 1960s and turned to new, experimental, free painterly, expressive and abstract pictorial forms.
American Lyrical Abstraction drew on the spirit of abstract expressionism, colour field painting and European Tachism of the 1940s and 1950s.
"Lyrical Abstraction" in the US was coined as a term by Larry Aldrich (the founder of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut) in 1969. "Lyrical Abstraction" was also the name of an important exhibition that originated at the Aldrich Museum and was shown beyond the Whitney Museum of American Art in numerous other museums in the United States between 1969 and 1971. Lyrical Abstraction was thus primarily an artistic trend in the 1960s and early 1970s in America.