Hans Hartung

(1904-1989) German-French

Hartung was known for his lyrical abstractions and involvement in the Art Informel Movement, his idiosyncratic paintings and lithographs were created with distinctive swirls, scribbles, and hatch marks which he made by scratching, erasing, and reapplying pigment. “The first most important thing is to remain free, free in each line you undertake, in your ideas and in your political action, in your moral conduct,” he once stated. “The artist especially must remain free from all outer restraints.” Hartung initially studied philosophy and art history at Leipzig University, but left before graduating to study art at academies in Dresden, Leipzig, and Munich. He moved to Paris in the late 1920s where he joined the French Foreign Legion and was later imprisoned for his “degenerate” painting style and serving a foreign army. Post-war, Hartung became associated with Jean Fautrier and Pierre Soulages, adopting a spontaneous and gestural style free from formal constraints. His work went on to have a significant impact on American abstract painters during the early 1960s and today his works are held in a myriad of significant collections including the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

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