Hermann Bartels

Titre: Weisses Bild N° 98
Technique: Huile sur toile
Signé(e) et daté(e): 1960
Dimension: 90 x 70 cm

Collection particulière, France 


The oeuvre of Hermann Bartels (1928-1989), who never attended an art academy, but instead enrolled only in private art lessons, displays an extraordinarily wide scope. The work's development spans from stain- and blotch-paintings, monochromes aligned with the ZERO movement, to angle-montage and ‘Streifenüberspannung' (a unique technique, by which colourful strips were overlaid and stretched onto a primed, white canvas).

Colour and its materiality played a central role throughout his work, a focus he shared with many of his contemporary artists. This fact is made manifest in the impasto application of large quantities of paint, as well as the varying combination of colourful bases.  

Towards the end of the 50s, influenced by French ‘art informel', Bartels isolated the blotch in his pictures and made it an archetype, a primal form consisting of one sole, great blotch. He applied paint in thick, impasto layers, additionally scraping at it with a spatula, the attention to texture performing a decided shift towards the monochrome. Typically, the resin-based paints where distributed from left to right over a canvas of upright format, whereby vertically arranged ridge-like structures emerge on the edges, while the space between opens up into a smooth plain.

In the 7th evening exhibition held by the ZERO-group in what was Otto Piene's atelier at the time, Bartels was represented with an informal work that carried the title No. 92. Further, he contributed a short text to the simultaneously published Magazine ZERO 1.

1959/60 was the creation of his increasingly monochrome scrape-paintings, held primarily in black and white. Frequently, his informal earlier pictures double as painting surfaces for these new works. Eventually he moved to Düsseldorf in 1960, so as to be closer to the group around Heinz Mack, Günter Uecker and Piene. During this time, he participated in several important ZERO exhibits.

However, as early as 1967, Bartels moved on from monochromes and turned to his ‘parallel montages'. According to the artist himself, the move from the sculpturally circumscribed areas to the multi-phase colourful, ‘stripe-paintings', in which tonal gradation or simultaneous contrasts and complements are juxtaposed, presents a natural evolution.

From the second half of the 70s onwards, Bartels concentrates progressively on painting, creating his combines and in the late 80s, his complexes.




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