Hans Hartung



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Hans Hartung 1904–1989
Lithograph on paper
Image: 501 × 320 mm
Purchased 1986

Display caption

Hartung was acknowledged as one of the leading abstract painters in Paris after the Second World War. His prints relate closely to the thousands of brush and ink drawings that he made in 1953-6. Dynamic compositions emerge from clusters of lines tracing repeated gestures. Hartung believed that these forms were comparable to those in the natural world. He wrote: 'Our organic knowledge, whether it is of the flow of blood or of the force which is in a growing stem, finds its parallel, its equivalent, in what we create.'

Gallery label, September 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

Hans Hartung born 1909

P77142 L36 1957

Lithograph 501 x 320 (19 1/2 x 12 1/2) on Arches paper same size; watermark ‘Arches'; printed by Jean Pons, Paris and published by Delphic Art, New York in an edition of 100
Inscribed ‘Hartung' below image b.r. and ‘45/100' below image b.l.
Purchased at Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Lit: Rolf Schmücking, Hans Hartung: Werkverzeichnis der Graphik 1921-1965, Brunswick 1965, p.99 repr.

P77141 and P77142 are from the series of twenty-six lithographs (L10-L36) that Hartung produced in 1957 all of which were printed by Jean Pons. Unlike Hartung's preceding lithographic series in 1952-3 (L1-L9 inclusive) a vertical format is consistently employed in the lithographs of 1957.

While the majority of the 1957 lithographs are black and white, indicating the use of one lithographic stone, both P77141 and P77142 employ an additional colour as a background. In P77141 this ground is pale grey-brown and in P77142 it is light green. In both prints the colour ground looks as if it has been washed-in with a wide brush. While the ground of ‘L10' is very thinly spread that of ‘L36' achieves a greater density.

Both lithographs show an accumulation of gestural marks orientated along the vertical axis of the work. Throughout the 1957 series Hartung explores a very narrow vocabulary of formal elements and a minimal technical range. The earlier works of 1952-3 were, in general, denser and more complex compositions, employing, within a single image, several different abstract motifs and variations in the strength and direction of the lines drawn. In the year following the series to which P77141 and P77142 belong Hartung once again became more expansive in his graphic work and began to explore the visual relations between curvilinear and straight lines.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.375-6


You might like