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Moon installation
Moon installation

Installation view of Jeremy Moon’s 2017 solo exhibition, at Luhring Augustine Bushwick, showing, from left, No 4/72 (1972) and Origami (1967).

Jeremy Moon was a British abstract painter who died after a motorcycle accident in 1973 at the age of 39. This exhibition of ten large paintings and one floor sculpture offers a fascinating glimpse into a burgeoning career that ended in mid-brushstroke, so to speak.

Moon came relatively late to his calling. He studied law at Cambridge and worked in advertising before he began to think of himself as a full-time artist in the early 1960s.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Moon never traveled much in this country. Nor had he seen the famous “New American Painting” show of Abstract Expressionism when it visited the Tate Gallery in 1959. Still, he was well abreast of developments in American hard-edge and color-field abstraction, and was clearly able to make his own significant contributions to the pictorial discourses that drove them. But Moon’s premature death meant that his innovations were never taken up by other painters or drawn into the modernist mainstream. As a consequence, his work can catch even seasoned gallery-goers unawares.

Most obviously, Moon’s use of color is not just highly personal; at times, it even veers toward peculiar. The one floor sculpture here, 3D 1 72 (1972) is painted in a shiny disagreeable green that hovers between moss and pistachio. Elsewhere, two different paintings combine blue with an odd muddy ocher that Moon probably intended to read as gold from a distance. In Caravan II (1968) the trick does not come off, but in At Midnight (1965) it works supremely well, and the result is one of the best paintings in the show: an allover surface filled with dozens of shallow arcs that float in space like confetti caught in a strobe light.

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