Summary

Drawing [13/12/71] is one of a group of fourteen works in pencil and oil pastel in Tate’s collection (T12222T12235) by the abstract artist Jeremy Moon. This drawing comprises a plane of orange drawn within a large rectangular frame. Two parallel vertical bands in pink cross the orange plane at the left and right edges of the frame, and across the centre. Two further parallel pink bands run along the plane’s lower edge. In terms of its composition and colours, this drawing dating from 1971 is related to the painting Untitled 2/72 (T02052), which Moon produced the following year. The drawing is signed.

Drawings formed a very significant part of Moon’s output and Tate’s examples, produced between 1967 and 1973, date from the latter part of the artist’s short career. Moon was one of a generation of British abstract painters that emerged in the early 1960s and included Robyn Denny (born 1930) and John Hoyland (born 1934). Their work, which owed much to American Hard-Edge and Colour Field painting, was large scale, colourful and rigorously non representational. The simplified blocks, grids and stripes that characterise T12222T12235 also occur in the works on canvas. In this drawing, the artist appears to be in the process of developing the composition that would become Untitled 2/72, as in both works pink bands cut across a rectangular orange plane. In the final work, Moon has rejected the paired bands of the drawing, and painted instead four bands of different thicknesses parallel to the four edges of the support.

In the drawings, however, Moon’s lines and grids are softened by the use of pastels, making these works distinct from the more strictly geometric shapes and sharp edges that characterise his paintings. Writing in 1976, artist Barry Martin commented:

Against the needle-sharp concentration [Moon’s] paintings appeared to have required, his small, freely executed pastel drawings come as something of a shock. These exquisite works are diametrically different from the paintings. Different because the small sketches served the purpose of extending the artist’s visualization of painting ... Broadly placed, the marks are often overlaid by others of another hue giving the shapes and lines a broken, rugged appearance and allowing colours to ‘bleed’ one to another.

(Martin, p.301.)


Some of the works in this group of drawings have only recently been rediscovered. They were filed by Moon in his studio, and then remained undisturbed there for some thirty years following his death in a motorcycle accident in 1973.

Further reading:
Barry Martin, ‘Jeremy Moon Retrospective’, Studio International, vol.191, no.981, May/June 1976, pp.300–1.
Jeremy Moon – A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 2001.
Janet MacKenzie, ‘Mr Jeremy Moon Experiments. Jeremy Moon: Drawings and Collage,’ Studio International, May 2005, http://www.studio-international.co.uk/search/index.asp

, accessed 30 July 2009.

Alice Sanger
September 2009