Summary

Moon’s work of the late 1960s is characterised by compositions based on a hard-edged and rigidly geometrical, non-representational visual language and the use of unmodulated colour. In 1970, the artist commented: ‘the need to keep the picture completely abstract is very important to me’ (quoted in Jeremy Moon, 1976 p.7). Untitled [8/71] measures some 2.1 metres by 2.5 metres. Its composition consists of a grid made up of four vertical black bars crossed by four horizontal yellow bars on a white ground.

Between 1968 and 1971, the grid became the central motif of Moon’s work. He used it ‘not just as a structuring device but as a motif in its own right’ (Livingstone, [p.1]). The painting Trellis 1962 (T01841), only the sixth or seventh work Moon produced, offers an early indication of the possibilities for experimentation that the artist saw in the geometrical arrangement of lines on a single-coloured plane. In Trellis, Moon placed a white grid over a field of yellow, marking points of juncture with a black circle. However, in Untitled [8/71], painted nine years later, the lines of the grid traverse the entire canvas, and the horizontal stripes (in yellow) are imposed over the vertical ones (in black). Both works demonstrate Moon’s practice of making crossing lines suggest surface and spatial illusion, despite the flatness of the colour.

Moon rarely titled his later paintings beyond recording the dates he produced them, suggesting that he did not want to distract attention from his principal concern with formal problems and with abstraction. In other paintings from the period, he used the grid in different and more complex arrangements. For example, in Untitled [9/68] 1968 (T12242), he divided the canvas in half with a line along the diagonal and placed on either side, and at angles to one another, two linear grids coloured yellow, filling in the blocks of the grid in the upper right variously pink, lavender, and pale and dark blues. Writing on Moon in 2001, the author Marco Livingstone explained: ‘[Moon] quietly insists on the fact that there is no single system operating across all his work; each painting constitutes a reconsideration of the function and interaction of the various elements.’ (Livingstone, [p.4].)

By the early 1970s Moon had established a reputation in Britain and was beginning to become known internationally. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1973.

Further reading:
Jeremy Moon: Paintings and Drawings 1962–1973, Serpentine Gallery, London 1976.
Barry Martin, ‘Jeremy Moon Retrospective’, Studio International, vol.191, no.981, May/June 1976, pp.300–1.
Marco Livingstone, ‘Moon-gazing: Watching Paintings Unfold’, in Jeremy Moon – A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 2001.

Alice Sanger
August 2009