5
5
Hans Hartung
T1956-8
Estimate
900,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,509,000 EUR
JUMP TO LOT
5
Hans Hartung
T1956-8
Estimate
900,0001,200,000
LOT SOLD. 1,509,000 EUR
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art Contemporain Evening Sale

|
Paris

Hans Hartung
1904 - 1989
T1956-8
signed and dated 56
oil on canvas
180 x 137,5 cm; 70 7/8 x 54 1/8 in.
Executed in 1956.
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This work is registered in the archives of the Fondation Hartung Bergman. It will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné currently being prepared by the Fondation Hartung Bergman. 

Provenance

Galerie de France, Paris
Robert Giron Collection, Brussels (acquired in 1956)
Private Collection, Europe

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie de France, Hans Hartung, Peintures récentes, November 1956
Hanover, Kestnergesellschaft; Stuttgart, Wurttembergische Staatsgalerie; Berlin, Haus am Waldsee; Hamburg, Kunsthalle; Nuremberg, Germanisches National Museum, Hans Hartung, January - July 1957; catalogue, cover, illustrated
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, L'Ecole de Paris dans les collections belges, July 1959
Düsseldorf, Kunstverein; Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts; Vienna, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts; Zürich, Kunsthaus, Hans Hartung, 1963
Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Hans Hartung, 1966; catalogue, p. 123, illustrated
Koln, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum; Munich, Städtische Galerie; Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Hans Hartung-Werke aus fünf Jahrzehnten, 1974 - 1975

Literature

René de Solier, "Hans Hartung", Quadrum, n°2, November 1956, p. 48, illustrated
Dora Vallier, Hartung et le geste de peindre, Paris, 1973, p. 37, illustrated

Catalogue Note

COMPS:
Exhibition view: 
T1956-8 dans l'exposition Hans Hartung au Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts à Vienne, 1963 © Photo: Adalbert Komers-Lindenbach © ADAGP, Paris 2018

Exhibition view (smaller image with white chair): 
Fig. T1956-8 dans l'exposition Han Hartung à la Galerie de France en 1956 © ADAGP, Paris 2018

Hans Hartung, T-1956-8, 1956

Matthieu Poirier

From his first remarkable works at the beginning of the 1920s, until his death in the Antibes studio in 1989, Hans Hartung’s essentially pictorial practice bore an internal aesthetic tension, the result of a to-and-fro between upsurge and control, disorder and measure, sensation and concept. This fundamental complexity confused until very recently the historical reception of this precursor and protagonist of essential pictorial movements such as Abstract Expressionism, action painting, lyrical abstraction or even informel art. Critics often highlight his Romanesque life – the artist was evicted from his native Germany in 1935 by the Nazis, and then fought the Nazi regime alongside the Allied Forces as part of the Foreign Legion, and lost a leg on the battlefield.

But critics are particularly interested in the 1950s period, of which the present painting T-1956-8 is characteristic, particularly in terms of the system set up by the artist at the end of the 1930s and that he abandoned only in 1960. This technique consisted of squaring the canvas and then transferring very precisely onto a linen canvas, freehand studies on paper – this technique is more often associated with figurative painting, where a narrative scene or at least images are transferred and not, as here, streaks of paint deposited by a paintbrush or other tools. Paintings with atmospheric and sometimes monochrome backgrounds such as T-1956-8 are thus inhabited by dynamic silhouettes, totally deprived of density or volume –  with Hartung space is never hollowed or raised but often arising from a foliage of successive planes. Emerging as much out of a gestural surge as from the careful labour of transfer, these works sometimes required a month of work form the artist. Through this transposition, nothing less than a real sign of manual execution is produced, a sign that translates the artist’s conceptual distance from sacrosanct expressivity, so characteristic of post-war art. In other words, the electrical beauty of the initial stridency, of the shock of physical energy brought to the paper in a few seconds, is not only preserved but literally amplified.

This logic will announce the work of others, such as the American Franz Kline, of whom we know today only his gestural and architectured abstraction, which he began only in 1950 and stemmed from the enlargement of his sketches onto huge canvases. Well before Roy Lichenstein’s Brushstrokes  (in 1965), Hartung’s vigourous brushstrokes, at least between 1938 and 1960, were both authentic traces of the painter’s action and pure fabrication. If the artist never concealed this method of transferring, he was little inclined to advertise it, in all likelihood to the extent that only the efficiency of the pictorial result counted in his eyes. Because this method of enlargement, this blow up proved to be all the more complex on a semantic level as it was both the representation of the traced line and the indisputable vector of a powerful expression. This indirect process still disrupts today a long-lived fantasy in the general reception of his career: that of a pure formal upsurging.  In other words, the aesthetic impact of Hartung’s paintings – fulgurant and ethereal – ensues from a carefully thought out process and from a complex relationship with sensorial reality. The painter’s supposed calligraphic spontaneity was consistent with an organised and systematic research, a constant analysis of the instinctive upsurging, and this through multiple practices such as drawing, painting, pastel, engraving, lithographs or photography.

In 1953, Jean Tinguely’s first Métamatics, veritable painting machines, parodied the gestural and convulsive manner of artists such as Hartung. Each spectator, by activating a switch, could become the “co-author” of a drawing. It is significant that Hartung purchased a copy, kept at the Hartung-Bergman Foundation. Duly signed on the back, in the space provided by Tinguely to this effect, the drawing appears as an amused avowal of the German-French artist’s distance from his own spontaneity. From 1960, the artist favoured moreover the expansion of formats and a more direct approach to the final canvas, without any preparatory studies or transfers. However everything was already anchored in the work, which was now the result of the crossover of logical reasonings that had for a long time been dissociated, even opposed by historiography: immediacy, stemming from a quick and violent gesture; the transcription of the sensitive experience of natural phenomena; the pictorial frame and constant technical experimentation, and finally, the conception of a purely abstract art, which refuses mimesis and anecdote.

Matthieu Poirier is an art historian. He is the author of the monograph Hans Hartung. A constant Storm (Editions Perrotin, 2017).

Art Contemporain Evening Sale

|
Paris