Hans Hartung Germany, 1904-1989


Hans Hartung (b. 1904, Leipzig, Germany; d. 1989, Antibes, France) was a post-war painter most closely associated with Art Informel, a European parallel to American Abstract Expressionism characterized by a freedom of form. Hartung is considered a leading figure of Tachisme, a subgenre of Art Informel that further emphasizes the singular and spontaneous mark of the artist. Inspired by German Expressionists Oskar Kokoscka and Emil Nolde, Hartung developed an idiosyncratic approach to painting at an early age. Despite Hartung’s classification as an Art Informel artist, he actually sketched free-form compositions on a small scale and enlarged them afterwards by using a grid. In this sense, he balanced spontaneity with precision. Hartung used spray paint, olive branches, and garden rakes to create his calligraphic scratches and scribbles. He officially moved to France in the 1930s to flee Nazi Germany and later joined the Foreign Legion and was awarded the Croix de Guerre, a French military honor. In 1960, the artist was recognized at the Venice Biennale with the International Grand Prix award. Hartung’s work is held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Tate, London.