Pierre Tal Coat was a French painter, born into a family of fishermen. He was originally called Pierre Jacob, but he adopted the name Tal-Coat in 1926. (Tal Coat means wood face in Breton). After working as a blacksmith's apprentice and a lawyer's clerk, he was briefly employed moulding and painting ceramics in a pottery factory. He was self-taught as an artist.
Following military service he moved to Paris in 1931 and became a member of the Forces Nouvelles group. In 1936–9 he did a series of powerfully expressive Massacres, based on incidents in the Spanish Civil War. They have something in common with Picasso's "Guernica", and Tal-Coat was strongly influenced by him at this time.
In the early 1940s, however, his work changed direction radically, as he developed the type of picture for which he is best known: starting from the impression of a natural scene he took this to the point of abstraction, suggesting the interplay of light and movement without specific representation.
Pierre Tal-Coat was considered to be one of the founders of Tachisme, a French style of abstract painting popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Tachisme was a reaction to Cubism and is characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube, and sometimes scribbling reminiscent of calligraphy.
Tachisme is closely related to Informalism or Art Informel, which referred not so much to a sense of "informal art" as "a lack or absence of form itself" and not a simple reduction of formality or formalness. Art Informel was more about the absence of premeditated structure, conception or approach than a mere casual, loosened or relaxed art procedure. He died in 1985.