Timothy Taylor Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of ambitious late paintings by the
celebrated abstract expressionist Hans Hartung. This will be the first exhibition of Hartungʼs
work in London since 1996.
In his last ten, highly productive years (1980 – 1989), Hans Hartung both expanded upon and
revisited many of the themes and techniques that he had used throughout his career. Using
spray paint and rollers, garden rakes and olive branches as brushes, Hartung, despite
advanced age and infirmity, produced extraordinarily dynamic and powerful paintings in his
home and studio complex in Antibes. Whether large paintings only lightly touched by a fine
mist of paint, or dramatic dark and heavily impastoed works, these ultra-modern canvasses
express ideas of infinity and the sublime on the one hand, and existential inner torment on the
Drawing on works from across the decade, this exhibition will feature several paintings
executed after 1986, when Hartung was told he was terminally ill. Hartung dedicated his
remaining three years to a furious output of work, noted for its large scale and dramatic
explosions of colour and form.
Hartungʼs work is enjoying a revival of critical and curatorial interest following exhibitions such
as Deadline, at the Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris (2009) which included last works by, amongst
others, Martin Kippenberger and Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Hartungʼs work was also included
alongside Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, Eva
Hesse and Cy Twombly in Action Painting (Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 2008), a show looking at
abstract gestural painting in Europe and the United States following the Second World War.
Hans Hartung (born Leipzig 1904, died Antibes 1989) was a German-born émigré who made
France his home and fought with the French Foreign Legion during WW2. He achieved great
recognition for his work in post-war Europe, and was awarded the International Prize at the
Venice Biennale in 1960. In 1994 a foundation in Antibes was established in his name
alongside that of his wife, Anna Eva Bergman. This is the artistʼs first show in London since
Hans Hartung: Works on Paper, 1922-1956, (curated by Jennifer Mundy) was held at Tate
Britain in 1996.
Hartung is best known for his 1950s gestural and existential abstractions: psychographs in
paint composed of dramatic sheaves of dark brush strokes, against a light washed
background. What has only become known recently, is that Hartung meticulously planned and
copied these apparently spontaneous paintings from much smaller sketches and studies. This
fact has forced a reassessment of our idea of Hartung as the ultimate expressionist artist,
positioning him instead as an early exponent of painting as a solipsistic and mimetic activity.
Current exhibitions include Hartung. Prints at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (until 16
January), travelling to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Musée d'art et d'histoire
de Genève (both 2011) and Hans Hartung – Lo Slancio at the Museo Regionale di Scienze
Naturali, Turin (until 30 January). Hartungʼs late spray-painted works are currently on display at
the Musée Régional dʼArt Contemporain Languedoc-Roussillon in Sérignan (until 10 February)
and his work is also included in a new collection display at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte
Reina Sofia, Madrid, Is the War Over? Art in a Divided World (1945-1968), (throughout 2011).