Born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1904, Hans Hartung, a French-born exponent of German ancestry among the top European figures in the field of abstractionism, attended the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Leipzig and then Dresden before completing his studies in Munich with painter Max Doerner.

Hans Hartung and Abstract Expressionism

In Paris in the 1930s one of his earliest influences was the works of W. Kandinsky, then Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Piet Mondrian coming to create profoundly singular abstract works.

In 1928, he met the young Norwegian artist Anna-Eva Bergman in Paris, who became his wife in 1929.

In 1931 he held his first exhibition in Dresden. penniless and ill he spent the next 3 years in Menorca. Then returned to Germany, but abhorring Nazism, he settled in Paris in 1935 where he became a French citizen in 1946.

Meanwhile, during World War II he took up service with the French Foreign Legion in North Africa and Alsace eventually ending up in a Spanish concentration camp from which he was freed only thanks to the Americans.

Artistic recovery after the war

Artistically inactive for six years he resumed his activity with numerous groups shows and works with broad swaths of colour, with stripes and calligraphic marks.

His first solo show was in 1947 at Galeria Lydia Conti in Paris followed by other exhibitions in Europe, the United States, Japan and Latin America.

His style transfers the artist’s pain and nightmares into abstract, lyrical painting.

Hartung and the French ‘tachism’

He covers his media with swirls and streaks, large dark masses drawn in oil, pastel or Indian ink.

According to Hartung only ‘tachism’ can convey the despair of the horrors of war. In 1960 he was awarded the Grand Prize of the Venice Biennale. In these years the painter began to use acrylics on large formats, which were scratched, scraped and struck by quick touches.

The French tachism practised in the post-war and 1950s was the American equivalent of action painting, characterised by spontaneous and intuitive gestures of the artist. In turn, it was part of a broader movement, that of informal art, in search of an authentic form of expression (abstract expressionism). The French Tachists were, however, more elegant and lyrical than their overseas American colleagues such as de Kooning and Pollock.

Hans Hartung ‘stigmatises’ his painting with a comb, broom or branches. In his work, he strives to fix the dynamism and constancy of the creative forces of light, spirit and matter.

In 1986, he began to create a series of chromatically vivid works, made with pours and drips on wrapping paper.

In the last three years of his life, he again renewed his expressive language, so that he could offer a final period of creation to himself and others.

His wife died in 1987, two years later the artist passed away in Antibes in 1989.

Artworks for sale

1960-47 by Hans Hartung for sale AM Arte Moderna


1960 - inch 19,68 x 25,59