Black charcoal drawing on yellow paper, with rough abstract pencil strokes. Two clear shapes are seen in the marks - on the left, more circular forms, and on the right, more controlled, linear, and vertical. A vivid yellow splash is visible behind the circular form.
Hans Hartung (1904-1989), P1958-58, 1958 © Hans Hartung / ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021. Image © The Courtauld


Hans Hartung (1904-1989)

In this vigorously worked composition made of strong vertical and circular movements on a large scale, the drawing process is readily apparent. The intertwining of thought and action suggests contrasting feelings through gestural strokes connected by the patch of yellow.  

Hans Hartung’s marks are wholly non-representational and enact their own abstract drama. The German-born French artist was celebrated as an exponent of Tachisme’ (Staining) or lyrical, gestural abstraction. He referred to his own work as an exchange between chance and choice, unconscious desire and rational control. 

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Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)