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 Hans Hartung  (1904 - 1989)

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Lived/Active: France/Germany      Known for: painter-abstraction

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AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
« T 1947-14 »
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Hans Hartung was born in Leipzig and has lived much of his life on the edge of catastrophe, but with the unshakable belief in the transforming power of art. He drew incessantly as a child, and his fascination from the very beginning was with abstract forms. For many years Hartung was to experience all the solitude and hardships that an artist breaking new ground is traditionally believed to undergo. In Paris he countered lack of money and loneliness by copying at the Louvre and visiting the galleries. He married Anna-Eva Bergman, a Norwegian painter and they moved to the island of Minorca off Spain.

As World War II neared, German residents became suspect and they had to leave, even though they had very strong anti-Nazi convictions. He joined the Foreign Legion and survived most of the war without serious accident. Then, in 1944, while attempting to rescue a comrade behind enemy lines, he was shot in the leg, and eventually, the leg had to be amputated. Largely ignored before the war, abstract artists increasingly occupied center stage in Paris in the 1950s. Hartung began to exhibit.


Written and submitted September 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Source: "Architectural Digest"

Biography from Christie's Paris:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Hans Hartung painted his first abstract works as early as 1922, but his work was only truly acknowledged by critics and his peers after the Second World War. He obtained French nationality in 1946 and received several military decorations together with the Légion d'honneur. In 1947 the Galerie Lydia Conti in Paris organized his first personal exhibition, soon followed by several personal and group exhibitions with Georges Mathieu, Pierre Soulages or Willi Baumeister among others. Hans Hartung was one of the beacon artists of Informal art and lyrical abstraction, artistic movements which can be considered as the European parallel to that of American abstract expressionism. In terms of approach, it is the creative process which is important, trying to translate on the canvas the act of painting in itself, rather than representing a preconceived idea. Hartung said: "It is an emotional state which compels me to act, to create some forms in order try to transmit and provoke a similar emotion in the viewer. Also [...] I enjoy acting over a canvas. This wish drives me: the desire to leave a trace of my gesture on the canvas or on paper. It is the act of painting, of drawing, of marking, of scratching." (Hans Hartung, quoted in M. Lefebvre, Hans Hartung autoportrait, Paris, 1976, p.180).

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