Hartung was by nature an abstract expressionist painter. As early as 1922 he had made his first foray into pictorial abstraction with a remarkable series of brightly coloured watercolours completed in a manner akin to those works by Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky. It was not until after a long break from painting however, enforced by the deprivations he had suffered during the Second World War, that Hartung began to paint in a deliberate and progressively abstract way. Returning to his father-in-law Julio Gonzélez's studio in Arcueil, Hartung began to make paintings in which the gestural act of painting became indivisible from the resultant work itself. For Hartung, the line was a means of distilling the raw energy of the person onto canvas. As an interaction between action and material and between man and canvas, painting in this way would not become just a record or expression of the artist's psychological experience, it would in fact become that experience. As the artist explained, 'the graphic symbol approaches ever more closely to the spiritual essence of man' (H. Hartung quoted in ‘Painting in the Country of the Good Life’, Hans Hartung: A Vision into Abstraction 1923-1964, exh. cat., Fischer Fine Art, London, 1981, p. 2).