HARTUNG, Hans (1904-1989) Born in Leipzig, Germany. From eight to ten he lived in Basel, Switzerland, where he developed a passionate interest in astronomy and photography, and even built himself a telescope. Classical schooling in Dresden from 1915 to 1924. Attracted to painting while still in his teens, studying Goya, Hals, El Greco, Rembrandt, then the Expressionists, and Corinth and Slevogt. Departed radically in his early work from an “objective” interpretation of reality, though Mondrian and Kandinsky were still unknown to him. Took his degree in philosophy and art history at Leipzig University in 1924, then attended the Fine Arts Schools in Leipzig and Dresden until 1926. Moved to Munich and continued his art studies there until 1930, making hundreds of copies in the museums. His eyes were opened to contemporary painting at the Dresden International Exhibition in 1926.
During the summer of that year he made a long cycling tour through Italy, and in 1927 visited Paris, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and the Tirol. Spent the winters of 1927, 1928 and 1929 in Paris; stayed for a time on the Riviera in 1930 and 1931. Exhibited in 1931 at the Galerie Heinrich Kühl, Dresden, where he met Fritz Bienert and Will Grohmann, who bought a picture from him. In 1932, stricken with illness and depression after the death of his father, he settled in the island of Minorca, where he had a house built. In 1935, after a trip to Sweden, he returned to Germany; but the Nazi régime made life difficult for him. With the help of Will Grohmann and Christian Zervos he was able to leave Germany and settle in Paris, where he met Kandinsky, Mondrian, Hélion, Goetz, Domela and Magnelli. Took part in the Salon des Surindépendants (from 1935 to 1938), in the exhibition “De Cézanne à nos jours” ( 1937) organized by Zervos at the Jeu de Paume, and in the exhibition of Twentieth Century German Art in London ( 1938). An exhibition of his drawings and pastels was organized at the Galerie Henriette, Paris, in 1939.
At the outbreak of war he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and served for two years in North Africa. Discharged in 1941, he returned to France and lived in the unoccupied zone until 1943, when the Germans moved in; he then escaped to Spain, where he spent seven months in prison. Finally released, he made his way to North Africa and joined General de Gaulle’s army. Took part in the invasion of France in 1944 and was badly wounded at the siege of Belfort; his left leg had to be amputated.
Awarded the Médaille Militaire, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. In 1945, in recognition of his war record, he received French nationality. He returned to Paris and began to paint again. Took part in 1946 in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and the Salon de Mai, where he exhibited yearly thereafter. First one-man show in 1947 at the Galerie Lydia Conti, Paris. Exhibited pastels at the Galerie Carré with Lanskoy and Schneider in 1949, and showed there regularly thereafter.
Hartung exhibition at the Kunsthalle, Basel, in 1952. Participated in the exhibition of Advancing French Art, organized by Louis Carré in New York, San Francisco and Chicago; the Venice Biennale ( 1952); Abstrakte Malerei ( Basel, Galerie Beyeler, 1956), Pittori d’Oggi ( Turin, 1957), the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh ( 1958), New York and Paris Painting in the Fifties ( Houston, 1959). One-man shows in Paris (Galerie de France, 1956, 1958, 1960; Galerie Craven, Early Drawings, 1956), Rome (Graphic Work, 1958), Munich ( 1958). Awarded the Rubens Prize by the city of Siegen in 1958 and the International Prize at the 1960 Venice Biennale