1), the only British Tachist
painter to have exhibited frequently in Belgium, alongside a display of works by the Belgian modern artists, Joseph Lacasse, Bram Bogart, and Paul Van Hoeydonck.
The first American retrospective of the artist's work, curated by Toby Kamps with art historian Ewald Rathke and currently on view at the Menil Collection (through January 12, 2014, in a pared-down iteration of a larger show that opened at the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, last spring), attempts to counter these narrow approaches with a broad selection of Wols's early Surrealist-inspired photographs, his abstract tachist
paintings, and a plethora of intricate works on paper.
In an unpublished manuscript, dated April 12, 1960, Torczyner writes that on his way back from Russia, he visited Magritte in Brussels, and Magritte asked if, while in the Soviet Union, he had seen the work of any "Tachist
Alone, fearless, she walks on in this war zone, determined that nothing will prevent her from fulfilling her mission, not even the sight of blobs of blood which, reminiscent of tachist
paintings in their shaped yet shapeless contours, cover the roadway before her.
As for the pure hard-line terrorists in the other camp, who fearfully keep away from any notion of meaning or "reference," their declarations always make me think of a little apologia written by an art critic who noticed that when the impressionists started out and were not yet admitted into the fold, and the public could only see "formless daubs" in their paintings, their few defenders, at the time, said to people (for example before Monet's Nympheas): "Move back, get further away, and you'll see that it represents something!", whereas a few years ago, at the time of the tachist
vogue, the defenders who were looking for respectable ancestors for them said to people they brought to see the same Nympheas: "Come along, get closer, and you'll see that it doesn't represent anything!"
In the same room, I admired Andrzej Zielinski's small paintings of mundane objects like laptops, each suspiring an unnamable, "existential" persona, all rendered in the absurdly dense impastos reminiscent of postwar European art informel and tachist
artists like Soulages, Mathieu, and Fautrier.
(Klein himself "emptied" a room at his Krefeld, Germany, retrospective in 1961, but any attempt to duplicate that already rather pathetic duplication would look only more fraudulent.) The next section covered the full range of "Anthropometries," including a large and fussy vertical Untitled of 1960 (number 101 in Paul Wember's 1969 catalogue), replete with negative imprints of tree leaves between positive blue and gold imprints of female bodies; an even larger and starker Untitled of the same year (number 106), in which eight distinct imprints of female nudes are disposed in a friezelike fashion, as in some of Matisse's later paper cutouts; and The Grand Blue Anthropometry, also from 1960, in which the furious traces left by Klein's "living brushes" amount to unidentifiable tachist