Hans Hartung - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • After World War II, Paris entered a period of artistic renaissance, once again attracting painters from all over the world who inherited the spirit of the School of Paris and formed the New School of Paris. Hans Hartung was one of its representative figures. Hartung often experimented with different painting tools, such as olive branches, brooms, spray guns and mud rakes.  He would also utilise the back of the brush or add pastel to oil and acrylic in his creations. This was a bold form of expression in comparison to traditional painting at the time. The straight lines, curves and geometric shapes drawn by broom brushes create irregular lines and a collision of colours, all characteristic of Hartung's early works.



    Mark Rothko, Untitled (Black on Gray), 1969-1970
    Collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
    © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 


    T1964-H50  was created in 1964. At first glance, most of the canvas seems to be dark and gloomy. However, with close inspection, one can see that the top part of the canvas consists of a dark blue that radiates fragments of light. The hue changes from dark blue to pitch black, and the strokes are consistently directed downwards, until the bottom where rays of light yellow protrude from the dark black. The grainy sandpaper-like texture can be seen in the alternating dark and light tones, delicate and elegant. In the dark black background, you can see several light-coloured brushstrokes stemming from top to bottom. In Hartung’s early works, he utilised different tools such as brooms and brushes to create unique line textures, like a few rays of light appearing in the silent black night sky, breaking the solemnity of the pitch-black darkness. A faint halo of light peeks out from the bottom of the canvas, as if black and the approaching daylight are alternating. The Book of Genesis states, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.’ In T1964-H50, the artist creates a progressive texture of subtle changes from top to bottom through the mutual application of oil paint and acrylic, presenting a sense of the blending and intersecting of the night and the morning light. Like turning from a desolate state to a hopeful light, this is the artist's search for spiritual self-cultivation and an inquisitive exploration of the universe. As opposed to the usual bright and rapid brushwork, T1964-H50 embodies the overlapping and blending of black and white, virtual and reality. It is a rare, calm and elegant work in Hartung's oeuvre.


    In 1947, Hartung held his first solo exhibition in Paris. It was not until 1950 when Hartung's unique calligraphy-like brushstrokes and colour scratches achieved global fame. Furthermore, as early as 1953-1954, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum held a large-scale retrospective for him. In 1955, Hartung then participated in Kassel's documenta. All these accomplishments show that Hartung’s work has had a profound and widespread influence on the development of American Abstract Expressionism and European Lyrical Abstraction.


    • Provenance

      Galerie Veranneman, Brussels
      Private Collection, Belgium
      Sotheby's, Paris, 11 December 2008, lot 185
      Private Collection
      Christie's, London, 7 March 2018, lot 162
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brussels, Galerie Veranneman, Hans Hartung, 1969, pl. 9, n.p. (illustrated)



signed and dated 'Hans Hartung 64' lower right
acrylic on canvas, laid on board
159 x 97 cm. (62 1/2 x 38 in.)
Painted in 1964, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Fondation Hartung Bergman. This work is registered in the archives of the Fondation Hartung Bergman under archive number CT HH971-0, and will be included in the artist's forthcoming catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by the Fondation Hartung Bergman.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021