Hans Hartung was a German – French Tachist painter (European form related to Abstract Expressionism) who painted for almost 70 years.
In his color fields layered with forms created from drops and scratches, you can see hints towards the work of Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, and Jackson Pollock.
Hartung’s paintings project strong feelings of a state of mind, like a headache or a heartache.
Germans are very good at this style of art. It’s a joy to get a Latin window into it.
A Hard Life Through Hard Times
Hartung was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1904 were he studied philosophy and art history. In Dresden, he studied painting. Seeing the Cubist work of Latin modern artists in the 1926 Dresden International Art Exhibition inspired Hartung to move to France and then Spain.
Hartung first exhibited in Dresden in 1932. He tried to establish himself in Berlin, but the Nazis gave him a hard time because of his links with Cubism, which they considered degenerate.
During World War II, Hartung joined the Foreign Legion. He lost a leg fighting in North Africa, but earned French citizenship.
Hartung had his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1947. By the late 1950s he was well known for his gestural paintings. In 1960, Hartung won the International Grand Prix for painting at the Venice Biennale. He died in France in 1989.
Hans Hartung in New York City
Hartung’s work is where you would expect to find it in the permanent collection of The Guggenheim.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art gave him a solo exhibition in 1975.
International French gallery Perrotin now manages the artist’s estate.
Hans Hartung : A Constant Storm. Works from 1922 to 1989 is a survey of over 60 works spanning seven decades, at Perrotin New York from January 12 – February 18, 2018. It is curated by Matthieu Poirier.