Spaces of tension:
Hans Uhlmann’s
late drawing

Hans Uhlmann (1900 – 1975)

Drawing by Hans Uhlmann, chalk on cardboard, 100 x 150 cm
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Black and white shapes, mostly triangles, create depth and perspective in this abstract chalk drawing. A few black forms extend towards the middle. Every area of white is criss-crossed by countless black lines, creating more overlapping triangles.

In 1950 Hans Uhlmann (1900–1975) was made a professor at the College of Fine Arts in Berlin. That same year he began to produce his first drawings in black chalk – and it now became his technique of preference. The figurative, representational elements in his work gradually gave way as he made the interplay of line and shape, light and dark his principal theme.

This folio is a particularly large specimen from the period. Compact blocks of black crayon push forward into the picture from the edges. They are clasped by a web of lines drawn precisely with a ruler, many straining towards each other with their sharp tips. The mesh appears to lie next to, under and over the black blocks. In places this has the effect of floating, gossamer scaffolding held in place by threads anchored outside the frame. As in all his late chalk drawings, Uhlmann has created spatial situations and fields of tension. He needs no reference to reality.

Untitled, 1958
Chalk on cardboard
100 x 150 cm
Acquired with budgetary funding from the Senate Department for Culture Berlin, 1989

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