Summary

Drawing [1968] 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 six-sided shape, formed as if from two trapeziums joined along a central axis. The two halves of the fan-like shape have been filled in with blocks in bright hues: dark red, orange, yellow, blue and grey.

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 the 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. Despite their small size, Moon’s drawings share many of the concerns of his paintings, at least in their treatment of space, colour and form. The simplified blocks, grids and stripes that characterise T12222T12235 also occur in the works on canvas, including the early painting Trellis 1962 (T01841), and Untitled 2/72 1972 (T02052), for which he produced numerous preparatory studies. More specifically, in works including Battenberg (1968) (reproduced in Jeremy Moon: A Retrospective, [p.16]), the canvas itself takes on the kite-shaped form defined in T12224. But in the painting, sharply defined gridlines in yellow, blocked out in a repeating sequence of pink, green and brown, replace the crude chequerboard effect created in the pastel drawing.

Writing in 1976, artist Barry Martin commented on the relationship between the drawings and the paintings:

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.)


Moon’s working practice was methodical and most of the drawings are dated. He signed T12224 and recorded the year of execution along the lower right edge of the support, but he often inscribed drawings with a month and day as well as a year. Some of the drawings in this group 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
July 2009