|Hans Hartung, Untitled, 1955|
|Hans Hartung, Untitled, 1935|
|Hans Hartung, Untitled, 1947|
During the war years, Hartung begins to experiment with lines without beginning and end, entangled, creating a drama on the canvas. A film by Alain Resnais in the exhibition claims that the paintings are about the disorder of our time, the dislocated world in which Hartung was living, from which he was exiled to France. Resnais demonstrates that Hartung’s works are about the anxiety of all men, the pessimism of humankind in this moment, the most difficult of all in the twentieth century. To be clear, Hartung’s paintings are not about the individual, about Hartung, but the “current tragedy of humanity.”
After the war, Hartung reaches his most exciting and interesting period of production. He paints lines that look like palm trees, works that are his most well-known, particularly for the luminosity of the background that makes them mysterious. There is a quietness in the way that the painting approaches the object on the canvas. These works have a beauty that emerges from the interaction between figure and ground. The shapes in the background, they never touch the sides of the frame, but are left floating in the center. And even when the shape is odd, it is suspended and centered.
There is something very photographic about these paintings. Extremes, opposites of light and dark, black and white, circular and straight lines, adding and subtracting paint, a constantly churning energy continuing on the canvas. In the 1970s, Hartung goes all out, still exploring, reminding me of Yves Klein's work, though what’s striking is the visualization of energy in the work of a man with no leg. A broken body creates these enormous paintings that are striving for a view of the universe from another galaxy, as a unified whole.
|Hans Hartung, 1986-E16, 1986|