Drawing [24/6/74] is one of a group of fourteen works in pencil and oil pastel in Tate’s collection (T12222–T12235) by the abstract artist Jeremy Moon. In this image, three shapes are drawn in a centrally-placed, approximately square frame, which has been loosely-sketched in pencil. The slightly skewed shapes are each blocked in with one uninflected colour that accentuates their flatness: the rectangle on the left is in red, the squares on the right, placed towards the frame’s upper and lower edges, are in black and yellow.
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. 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. In the later drawings, however, the artist seems to move away from the grids and stripes that characterise some of the earlier drawings in this group, including T12223-30, and many of paintings of the same period, represented in Tate’s collection by Untitled [9/68] 1968 (T12242), Untitled [8/71] 1971 (T12243) and Untitled [‘72] 1972 (T12239).
In his drawings, Moon deployed loosely defined forms with lines that are softened by the use of pastels, making them distinct from the more strictly geometric shapes and sharp edges that characterise his paintings. Writing in 1976, the 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.
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.
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.