Hans Hartung

Date/place of birth

September 21, 1904, Leipzig, Germany

Day/place of death

December 7, 1989, Antibes, France

Hans Hartung - T 1955-23a
Hans Hartung - T 1955-23a

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Hans Hartung biography

Lines and colours determined the art of Hans Hartung, who throughout his life was not interested in the representational, but always sought a new, unbound expression to clothe his inspiration in seemingly arbitrary playfulness. This made him one of the most important representatives of the Informel.

Hans Hartung – Childhood, youth, and initial studies in Germany

Hans Hartung was born in Leipzig on 21 September 1904. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Germany, attending a humanistic grammar school in Dresden from 1915. He already discovered his interest in abstract art in these early years and practised the creation of nonrepresentational pictures. He began studying philosophy and art history in Leipzig in 1924, but a seminal encounter with the work of the Russian Expressionist Wassily Kandinsky drove him just one year later to study painting in Leipzig and Dresden. In 1928, he went to Munich and became a student of the German Impressionist Max Doerner.

Stateless, foreign legionnaire and war hero

His first marriage in 1929 to the Norwegian painter Anna-Eva Berman was dissolved only a short time later at the instigation of her mother. At that time, Hans Hartung did not own a passport and as a stateless person, was unable to travel to Oslo to communicate with his wife. A stay in Paris proved formative, where, in addition to his role model Kandinsky, he made the acquaintance of Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Piet Mondrian, and in the ensuing period, Hartung took part in several exhibitions in the Salon des Surindépendants. He joined the Foreign Legion in France in 1939 and fought in the Second World War but lost a leg in 1944 as a result of a serious wound and returned to France an invalid. There he acquired not only French citizenship in 1946 but was also inducted into the Legion of Honour. In 1952 he met his former wife Anna-Maria Bergman again, and they married a second time. This marriage held until her death in 1987.

Hans Hartung as icon of Informel art

Hans Hartungs’s great rise took place several years after the end of the war, when he became one of the most important representatives of Informel art almost overnight with his seemingly uncontrolled restlessness and hastily thrown down formations of line and colour. In the years that followed, there was hardly an exhibition that did not feature Hans Hartung’s work: he was represented several times at Documenta in Kassel (1955, 1959, 1964) and became a member of the renowned Académie des Beaux-Arts. From 1957 to his death in 1989, Hans Hartung received prizes and awards in great numbers, including the Venice Biennale Grand International Prize and the Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1976, the artist published his own biography under the title ‘Autoportrait’. 

Hans Hartung died in the French town of Antibes on 8 December 1989, of which he had been an honorary citizen since 1976. Even years after his death, his art continues to be the subject of various exhibitions, most recently in 2014 at the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome. With the work of Hans Hartung, the history of European Informel art would be unthinkable.

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Hans Hartung Prices

Hans HartungT 1955-23a€235.600
Hans HartungT1989-U27€161.200
Hans HartungT 1950-60€111.600
Hans HartungT 1962-L47€80.600
Hans HartungT 1963 - U 12€72.000
Hans HartungT 1963 R 9€70.800

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