Hans Hartung

Hans Hartung (Leipzig, Germany 1904- Antibes, France 1989) was a German-French painter, known for his gestural abstract style. He studied philosophy and art history at the Leipzig University in 1924, and later attended art schools in Leipzig, Dresden, and Munich. He settled in France in the years preceding the outbreak of the Second World War. Associated with the Art Informel and Taschist movements, Hartung was one of most significant post-war artists, renowned for his dramatic and innovative approach to abstraction.


Concerned with the translation of the inexpressible onto canvas, Hartung's emotional abstractions eliminated all figurative elements, pursuing such freedom of gesture and spatial dynamism with a litany of non-traditional tools, including spray guns, brooms and branches from the olive trees that grew in the grounds of his home and studio in the South of France. Balanced between chance and control, Hartung's oeuvre is unexpectedly pre-meditated. His late painting, much of which was made from the confines of a wheelchair, is amongst the most vigorous of his near seven-decades-long career, presenting a renewed sense of freedom, energy and ambition.


Hartung's works are in the collections of major museums worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Tate Gallery, London, Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. His prominent solo exhibitions in the last decade are: Hans Hartung: Essential, Circula de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain (2008); Hans Hartung: The Gesture and the Method, Fondation Marguerite and Aimé Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France (2008); Hans Hartung Prints, Museum of Prints and Drawings, National Museum of Berlin, Germany; Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Genève, Geneva Switzerland (2010-2011); Hartung: Prints, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland (2011); Hans Hartung: Fait le 29.7.89 – Bilder eines Tages, Galerie Fahnemann, Berlin, Germany (2012); Hans Hartung: L'Atelier du Geste, CCBB, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2014-15); Hans Hartung and Photography, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen, Germany (2016). A major retrospective of his work will take place at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France from October 2019.

Hans Hartung in his studio in 1965. Photo © Yousuf Karsh