Catalogue entry

Hassel Smith born 1915

T00383 Untitled 1959

Inscribed 'Hassel Smith | 1959' on back of canvas, and 'up' with an arrow
Oil and semi-gloss enamel on canvas, 71 x 49 (180.5 x 124.5)
Presented by Allan D. Emil through the American Friends of the Tate Gallery 1960
Prov: With Gimpel Fils, London (purchased from the artist); Allan D. Emil, New York
Exh: Hassel Smith: Paintings, Gimpel Fils, London, April 1960 (14, repr.)
Repr: The Friends of the Tate Gallery: Annual Report 1960-1961 (London 1961), between pp.12 and 13

The artist wrote (27 April 1961): 'It was executed in a combination of conventional oil-color and semi-gloss enamel (the American equivalent of Ripolin, I believe).

'I wish I could tell you something in detail about this painting, its conception, etc. As it happens my "methods" preclude verbal recapitulation. I do recall that I spent an awfully long time on this painting and that in an earlier stage of its development there was additional eventfulness. Thus it is an example of a trajectory of change characteristic of many of my paintings. I often begin by "making" a lot of "things" - packing the area with events - and then proceed (compulsively rather than by formal plan or choice) to eliminate, cut-up, regroup, etc., always in the direction of greater asperity of effect.

'In this particular painting I notice hoof-like forms which seem to relate it in my mind with an earlier painting (also shown at Gimpel Fils), a painting called "Variations on a War-Like Theme". The imagery in the earlier painting is more complete but in both there seems to be a suggestion of the Flying Horse (dragon), warrior, destructive apocalyptic presence etc.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.694-5, reproduced p.694