Jeremy Moon

No. 9/68


In Tate Britain

Jeremy Moon 1934–1973
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 1808 × 1958 × 27 mm
Purchased 2006


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 [9/68] is a large, almost square canvas. In this work, a diagonal yellow line divides the composition into two. On each side of the line, a differently oriented yellow grid covers the entire surface. While the background is white, twenty spaces between the lines in the upper right are coloured variously pink, lavender, and three tones of blue.

Between 1968 and 1971, the grid became the central motif of Moon’s work, and his preoccupation with it suggests a process of experimentation to achieve different visual effects. 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 that the artist saw in the geometrical arrangement of vertical and horizontal 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. In Untitled [9/68], however, the arrangement of grids is far more complex, which produces a sense of tension quite distinct from the effect of the earlier work. The author Marco Livingstone has 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].) Moon rarely titled his later works, except for recording the dates they were painted, suggesting that he did not want to distract attention from his principal concern with form and abstraction.

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

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Display caption

The grid was central to Moon’s paintings between 1968 and 1971. Rather than being a restrictive form, he used it in a variety of ways, to explore the relationship between flat surfaces and three dimensional objects. Here, two contrasting grids meet, creating a visual illusion in which the diagonal grid appears to overlay the vertical one.
Between 1963 and 1968, Moon taught in the sculpture department at St Martin’s School of Art, and he has been often grouped with sculptors associated with St Martin’s such as Anthony Caro (displayed nearby) and Phillip King (displayed in the next room).

Gallery label, October 2019

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