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 Peter Hartmann  (1921 - 2007)

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Lived/Active: Switzerland/Italy/Germany      Known for: painting and monumental sculpture

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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.

Peter Hartmann was born in Hamburg, June 19, 1921. His father, Traugot, was Swiss, originally from the canton of the Grisons. His mother Kathrine Knutzen, was German-Danish.

Peter spent his childhood in Cairo, Egypt where his father was the director of a Gas-company.

''My passion for sculpture came to me whilst in Egypt. My mother was very passionate about archeology and was an avid collector of Egyptian antiquities. Often she would take me with her to the museums. She never interfered and left me to appreciate the antiquities in a manner of my own. ''

“Through the forms, I search for humanity in expression. It's this that interests me. The human expression caught in plaster, in a movement. My statues are not only forms. I search always to express what may be inside these forms.''

Many of his other sculptures are found with private collectors both in Switzerland & Internationally.

PERMANENT WORKS IN PUBLIC SPACES

VIRGIN, Eglise du Christ-roi,
Petit Lancy - LE REPOS,
Quai Ernest Ensermet - THE MONUMENT OF PICTET DE

ROCHEMONT, on the Promenade de la Treille, Geneva.

« ''The commitment for the monument 'Pictet de Rochement' was offered to me because I was particularly noted as a sculptor of the figurative arts. They asked me for an example and they liked it. It was the Autumn of 1968 and it was a work that was very stimulating even though it is said by many that this genre of sculpting was outdated. I didn't agree. I was convinced that with a certain dose of essentially, of purity and sobriety, it could be a kind of realization that was still actual. To understand the subject, I read his memoirs & other documents. To recapture his resemblance, I drafted my ideas from a sketch and the mold of his death mask. Interview from the Journal de Genève, 10 juin 1970 -

JOUEUR DE FLUTE, Parc Gourgas - NOTRE DAME D’AVUSY,
Eglise d’Avusy - SAINT NICOLAS DE FLÜE,
Eglise de Saint Nicolas - ARLEQUIN,
Théâtre de la Comédie de Genève - VITTORIO, Résidence Petite Boissière

INDIVIDUAL EXHIBITIONS 1959
GALLERY MOTTE GENEVE 1964
GALLERY VANIER GENEVE 1968,
GALLERY VANIER GENEVE 1972,
GALLERY VANIER GENEVE 1975,
GALLERY STEINGAESSER CAROUGE 1976,
GALLERY ANDRE’ BUCHS GENEVE 1979,
GALLERY DIETESHEIM NEUCHATEL 1981,
GALLERY DES PLATANES CAROUGE 1987,
GALLERY CLUNY GENEVE 1991,
GALLERY LA COLLECTION VESENAZ 1994,
GALLERY DU SIMPLON VEVEY 1998,
SALON D’EXPOSITIONS GENEVE COLLETTIVE EXHIBITIONS 1951, GALLERY GEORGES MOOS 1952,
EXHIBITION OEUVRE GENEVE 1961,
EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS DE GENEVE,
PARC DES EAUX VIVES GENEVE 1962,
EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS DE GENEVE,
PARC DES EAUX VIVES GENEVE 1963,
EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS GENEVOIS CLUB MIGROS GENEVE 1965, EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS DE GENEVE,
PARC DES EAUX VIVES GENEVE 1966,
EXHIBITION DE SCULPTURE EN PLEIN AIR MONTREUX 1969 EXHIBITION DE SCULPTURE EN PLEIN AIR MONTREUX 1970 EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS MUSE’ D’ART ET D’HISTOIRE GENEVE 1984 EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS GRAND LANCY GENEVE 1985
EXHIBITION SCULPTEURS JARDIN BOTANIQUE GENEVE

Some quotes from Mr.Hartmann:

'My passion for sculpture came to me whilst in Egypt. My mother was very passionate about archeology and was an avid collector of Egyptian antiquities. Often she would take me with her to the museums. She never intefered and left me to appreciate the antiquities in a manner of my own.

“Through the forms, I search for humanity in expression. It's this that interests me. The human expression caught in plaster, in a movement. My statues are not only forms. I search always to express what may be inside these forms.''

“Behind the form, there has to be humanity, the desire to express a feeling, a fear, a love...the whole spectrum of human emotions.''

“Many of my statues have an open mouth. It's as though they are speaking, singing or laughing. They are creations that have something to say, to share, to communicate.”

THE MAN WITH A UNICORN “The man with a unicorn is different from the other men. His unicorn makes him different from the rest of humanity and for this he suffers a little. To be different is always difficult.“

“I work without making a model. I sketch the designs and then mold the figure in terracotta, in plaster or wax. For the big bronzes, I don't adhere to the traditional method ( model in clay and then print and plaster). I prefer to make the plaster directly. I develop a very precise idea of what I want from the initial sketches and then eventually I mold the model out of clay.''

“Then the next step is constructing with iron thread a foundation with which I apply the plaster. It's a method halfway between the modelling & the chiseling, you put on & then you take off. It's a technique that I am very much acquainted with. The results are different to the clay models which are more aggressive with a surface that captures the light well.''

THE DRAWINGS “The drawings have a fundamental role in the work of the sculptor because the form has to be based from the ideas. I research my ideas first on paper and then I realize the sculptures according to the drawings.”

Submitted by Jacelyn Parry, friend of the artist's family


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.

Peter Hartmann (19 June 1921, Hamburg - 14 November 2007, Geneva ) was a Swiss sculptor and is particularly known for his bronze sculptures in public spaces in Geneva, Switzerland.

His father, Traugot Hartmann, was from Graubünden, Switzerland and his mother, Katherine Knutzen, was of German/Danish origin. Hartmann spent his childhood in Cairo, where his father was a manager at the Compagnie de Suez.

Of these years, the artist wrote: “In Egypt I had an extremely happy childhood, in a lovely house with a large garden. On Sundays there were excursions in the fertile Nile delta, or towards Memphis, or the dead city of Saqqara...or we organized picnics in the rocky desert between the Nile and the Red Sea.  For us children it was all a wonderful treat. My mother was a passionate collector of Egyptian antiquities. Often the merchants came to the house, and laid out their merchandise on a table on the terrace - small tissue wrapped packages which contained tiny statues of the various divinities.”

Hartmann went to an International English school in Cairo, and then to the International German school. After completing his primary educational studies, he was then sent to Germany to complete his higher education. In 1939 Hartmann obtained his Baccalaureate award and had decided to become an artist. His father was very much against the idea and in a gesture of filial compromise, Hartmann reluctantly agreed to study architecture in Berlin.

However just prior to his arrival in Berlin, World War II was declared, and ' it held my life in suspense for six years - six years during which I did not see my parents.' Towards the end of the war, he was able to travel to Geneva where his brother was living.  It was there in Geneva that Hartmann decided to become a sculptor, and in Geneva he followed the courses given by Henri Paquet.

"My formation as a sculptor was directed by Henri Paquet, who had a studio in Geneva and took pupils. He was an accomplished artist and also a kind person. '

Peter remained in Geneva until the end of 1946 before returning to live with his parents in Egypt.

' My father emptied his garage so that could install my studio- However I found no source of inspiration in Egypt. For me it was a life without interest. I dreamed of returning to Europe - even a small room, anyplace, as long as it was in Europe - the base of my cultural roots.' After the Egyptian sojourn, Peter tried living in Florence where he went to the Academie des Beaux Arts. However this atmosphere didn’t suit him as he found it too conventional, and not stimulating enough.

' What I owed to Florence was the constant presence of the sculptors of the Renaissance - the discovery of their liberty of movement. It was the continuation of classic art. '

After the period in Florence, Peter moved to Positano, near Naples, a town that hadn’t yet become fashionable. There he joined a number of artists who were grouped around the German painter, Kurt Kraemer. He also met his wife, Isa Bartalini, an Italian Assistant Director with whom he had his only daughter Lilia Hartmann.

' In Positano I began to model my works directly in plaster, instead of clay. This technique gave me a certain liberty and allowed me to work with greater detail. '

Peter continued working on his technique and went to Paris in 1949.

' But even in Paris I didn’t find what I was looking for. Finally I came back to Switzerland to Vency in the countryside of Vaud. There I worked steadily and pursued the creation of an individual style. '

In 1950 he was permanently installed in Geneva, and working continuously.  In 1957 he received his first commission for a large work - the Virgin for the church of Christ Roi in the Geneva suburb of Petit Lancy.  For his works in bronze, Peter worked with the caster Pastori.

In 1959 he had his first solo exhibition, which was followed by many solo and collective shows in Geneva, and throughout the French part of Switzerland.  In 1968 he received his most important commission which was the statue of Pictet de Rochemont, now installed on the Promendade de la Treille in Geneva.

He was not able to live on his sculptures alone and subsisted with many odd jobs including lecturing, being cellerman and receptionist at the UN. Eventually he was hired on a part time basis as a restorer at the Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève'. "It was a subsistence job, but the work was rewarding and I carried it out with interest and pleasure. I always loved working with classical antiquities. "

Peter Hartmann continued his activities as a sculptor until the end of the ' 90's until he was stricken by Parkinson's Disease, which gradually prevented to him from fully working with his hands.  He died in Geneva on November 14, 2007.

Source:
Wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hartmann_%28sculptor%29

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