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 John Konstantin Hansegger  (1908 - 1989)

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Lived/Active: New York / Switzerland      Known for: portraits of notable persons, cubist figurative painting

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Hans Egger is primarily known as John Konstantin Hansegger

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John Konstantin Hansegger
An example of work by Hans Egger
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in St. Fiden (St. Gallen), Switzerland, John Hansegger was educated in Europe. He had his first one-man show in Zug, Switzerland in 1928 where the local press noted that . . . the extraordinary exactitude of the paintings and the creative power of this young artist are remarkable," He later joined the Kunstler-Vereinigung in Munich, Germany in 1933 where he participated in several exhibitions while he was sponsored by the Kunsthaus in Zurich. In 1937 he arrived in Paris where he joined with other noted painters of the "Surindependents" movement (including Paul Klee) and joined the "Allianz" (Confederation of Modern Swiss Artists in Zurich).

In 1942 he returned to his native Switzerland where he opened the Des Eaux Vives Gallery, which he operated until 1947. While living in Switzerland he also ran an art publishing house in association with his gallery. One of his earliest known publications was Ugo Pirogallo's "Intime Reise," (1945), which included eight color and black-and-white illustrations by Hansegger.

In the late 1940's he began touring around the world, with visits to Japan, Ecuador, and America. He settled permanently in the United States in 1948, where he had his first one man show in 1953 at the Princeton University Art Museum.

During his career he painted portraits of many famous politicians, scientists, artists, and statesman, including Pablo Picasso (1936), Sigmund Freud (1939 - etching), Albert Einstein (1953), Lotte Fuerstenberg-Cassierer, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Princess Dinah of Basutoland, Arturo Toscanini, Dr. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (author and professor at Columbia University), and many, many others.

His portrait of Albert Einstein, which was painted in 1953, was so acclaimed that it was issued as a limited edition print in 1982. Noted art critic W.A. Heider commented on this portrait that "the whole life story of Einstein is seen in the expression of the eye, the spiritual power of a great mind, yet the kindness and humility which are the marks of a great human being."

During the 1950's and 60's Hansegger focused on cubist-inspired, figurative works for which he is best known today. Much of this work was either discussed or featured in two books, Prof. Erik Larsen's Hansegger: A Contribution to a Critical Study of His Art, published in 1961, and Hansegger: Paintings 1949-1960, written by Martica Swain and published in 1962.

In the mid-to late 1950's, Hansegger began to move more and more towards landscape and still-life painting. One art critic noted that his landscapes evoked . . "the luminosity of the late Cezanne." He is especially remembered today by many folk collectors for his whimsical "Rooster" series.

Widely exhibited during his career, some of the galleries and museums where his work was shown include the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey (1953), Gallery Moderne, New York (1954), Lotty Jacobi Gallery, New York (1955), Gallery 75, New York (1956), Artists Gallery, New York (1957), the National Arts Club, (1957), The Berkshire Museum, Massachusetts (1957), Nechemia Glezer Gallery, New York (1958), the Columbia County Centennial Exhibition, New York (1959), the Swiss Corporation for Canadian Investments Exhibition, Toronto (1969), the Spencer Gallery, New York (1970s?), and the Royce Gallery of New York (1982).

Written and submitted December 2004 by Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director Southold Historical Society, Southold, New York.

Ugo Pirogallo, "Intime Reise"
Erik Larsen, "Hansegger: A Contribution to a Critical Study of His Art"
Martica Swain, "Hansegger: Paintings 1949-1960"

Biography from Gallery Moderne Ltd:
J.K. Hansegger, born in St. Gallen, Switzerland in 1908, was a unique figure in 20th Century art, involved in most of the major movements of the century. His career spanned seven decades and five continents. Finding solace in art from the pain of his early life as an orphan he was recognized as a prodigy, achieving his first one-man show at the age of 20 in Zug, Switzerland.

Hansegger moved to Paris and became a member of an artistic circle of avant-garde artists, among them Picasso who encouraged his career and with whom he developed a friendship. Hansegger is one of the few artists to ever paint Picasso’s portrait.

His styles were Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Parallels, a style he invented which he filled with symbolic imagery in bright primary colors.

After World War 11, in need of adventure, Hansegger traveled extensively, holding exhibitions in Japan, Sweden, Israel and in 1947 in America where he exhibited his work along with Klee, Kandinsky and others at the Galerie Nierendorff, NYC.  He also traveled to South America as well as Africa where he did impressionist painting of places, people and animals.

In addition, he explored and developed playful Rectilinear Figurative portraits and a landscape style he called Ornamentalism.

In 1953, Hansegger was invited to hold a solo exhibition at Princeton University’s Art Museum. Albert Einstein befriended him and granted him the privilege of painting his portrait. Reviews acclaimed his talent and the University offered him a position, however JK chose to open a studio in NYC.?

He enjoyed great artistic freedom, moving between more styles, painting for the joy of it. Portraits continued to sustain his career and included Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Toscanini, Thomas Mann, Zen Master D.T. Suzuki, Rabbi Herzog, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and many others.

Biography from Bruce Palmer Galleries II:
The artist is known under two names. In Europe, and in some listings in America, he is "Hans Egger". He has numerous auction records in Europe under that name, and a few here in America.

BOOKS: He has a book listing in Davenport's as "Egger, Hans (John Konstantin), and I would imagine several other places under this name. He is listed on Comanducci (Dizionari Benezit Librariarte Rari) as Hans E Hansegger. He also figures prominently in a book on early concrete painting titled Eifuhrung in die Betrachtung der abstrakten und konkreten Materei (trans: Introduction to the Observation of Concrete and Abstract Painting) by Johannes M. Sorge, published in 1945 by Editions des Eaux-Vives Zurich.

ASSOCIATIONS: In the 1930s-40s he was an active member of the "Suridependents" in Paris, "Allianz," the "Kunstler-Vereinigung" in Zurich, "Gallery Des Eaux Vives" and Kunstler Haus.

St. Gallen Museum
Kunsthaus, Zurich
Swiss National Art Show
Kunstverein Gallery
Des Eaux Vives Gallery
Durbin Art Gallery (South Africa)
Gainsborough Gallery (Johannesburg)
Princeton University Art Museum
Gallery Moderne, New York
Lotty Jacobi Gallery
National Arts Club
Columbia University
Berkshire Museum
Gallery 75

He also did a great deal of work in Columbia County, New York, and the Berkshires in Massachusetts.

He also worked in the style of "Art Concrete".

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