Perrotin Paris is hosting an important exhibition of works by Hans Hartung, conceived in three parts: the performance by Abraham Poincheval inaugurated Hartung 80, a presentation of final works by the Franco-German artist. And concurrently, Rothko - Hartung, a multiform friendship(curated by Thomas Schlesser) brings together works by the two masters for the first time, thanks to the exceptional loan of the Musée national d’art moderne - Centre Pompidou of the work N°14 Browns over Dark by Rothko.
This Summer, Perrotin Paris presents an in-depth exploration of this era of Hartung's work, divided into seven sequences and organized by form and technique. The period is too little-known, despite the full scope of the artist’s 2019 retrospective at the Musée d'art moderne de Paris. The 1980s high-lighted Hans Hartung's ultimate achievement of his abstraction: liberty of form, maximum energy of the line, associations between accident and virtuoso mastery.
Between the ages of 75 and 85, Hartung developed and renewed his techniques in his atelier in Antibes, where he had a space suitable for these experiments. The artist was physically diminished by both old age and an amputation following the war, yet he maintained a tremendously vital psychology and energy; furthermore, being an established figure throughout the world, he sought no other satisfaction than to delight in producing the most inventive abstraction, emancipated from all external gazes.
Paintings from this period were exhibited in the past, during the 1980s and 1990s, but they experienced a long purgatory, critically speaking. Interest has recently been revived—driven, on the one hand, by institutional rediscoveries (through the exhibition Hartung and the Lyric Painters in Landerneau, as well as the acquisition of four works from 1989 by the Musée d’art moderne de Paris in 2016-2017). But it is also thanks to contemporary artists, who cite him with deep admiration: among them Christopher Wool, Katharina Grosse, and Larry Clark.
Abraham Poincheval (born in 1972) has become known for works that test his psychic and corporeal limits over a very long time—up to a week—in cramped places, notably Pierre at the Palais de Tokyo in 2017. Abraham Poincheval admires the work of Hans Hartung immensely and, he has said, the hallucinations provoked by some of his experiences of isolation are evocative of the Franco-German artist’s paintings from the 1970s and 1980s. He will look at it continuously, for seven entire days. Hartung’s painting will therefore become the longest continuously observed work by an individual in the history of art. The artist will not know which work it is until the performance.
The sculpture made for the Poincheval’s containment with the Hartung work will be visible to the public for the duration of the exhibition. Scientific researchers will analyze the “aesthetic experience” Abraham Poincheval undergoes, as well as his states of consciousness altering before the canvas. By using a electroencephalography, it will be possible to record the artist’s brain activity.
Born in 1904 in Leipzig, Germany
Lived and worked in France
Died in 1989 in Antibes, France
Hans Hartung achieved international recognition as a seminal figure of art informel, which arose in France during World War II. Beyond the apparent spontaneity of his distinctively bold and almost calligraphic gestural abstraction, rationalism equally informed his style, which arose out of an early interest in the relationship between aesthetics and mathematics—particularly the harmony of the golden ratio—but also out of necessity: early in his career, he meticulously squared up his successful abstract sketches in order to reproduce them on larger canvases, which he could not afford to risk losing to improvisation. The Grand International Prize for Painting, which he won at the 1960 Venice Biennale, marked a decisive turn in his practice. Hartung began improvising directly onto canvas and experimenting with new media, namely fast-drying acrylic and vinyl paints, as well as scraping and spraying techniques. The quest for balance between spontaneity and perfection remained at the core of Hartung’s painterly aesthetics until the end of his life, in 1989.
—More about the artist