"In my opinion the painting which is called abstract is none of the "Isms" of which there have been so many lately, it is neither a "style" nor an "epoch" in art history, but merely a new means of expression, a different human language - one which is more direct than that of earlier painting". (Hans Hartung)
Hans Hartung was one of the few artists who spent their entire life working in an Informel manner. He began studying philosophy and art history in 1924 at the university of Leipzig, but soon changed to the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Leipzig and then Dresden. He continued his training in 1928 with the painter Max Doerner in Munich. This period is reflected in his oeuvre in spontaneous, sketchy line compositions in which Hartung was guided by the inspiration of chance and analysed the tension between the areas of colour and the lines.
After a lengthy stay on the Balearic island Menorca Hartung settled in Paris in 1932. Here he met Kandinsky, Mondrian, Miró and Calder and exhibited works at the "Salon des Surindépendants". At the beginning of the war Hartung joined the Foreign Legion and returned to Paris in 1945 with severe injuries.
He became a French citizen. His work during this period is characterised by suspended areas of colour superimposed by calligraphic bunches of lines. Hans Hartung had important exhibitions in Paris, Brussels, Munich and Basle after 1949 and frequently showed works at the "documenta" in Kassel between 1955 and 1964. He was honoured with the "Prix Guggenheim" in 1956 and awarded an honorary membership of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.
He was awarded the Great International Prize for Painting at the Biennale in Venice in 1960. During the 1960s Hartung made monochrome areas of colour in which he engraved rows of parallel grooves, thus introducing not only a calligraphic but also a three-dimensional element into his work.
Hans Hartung published his memoirs called "Autoportrait" in 1976. One year later he became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and in 1981 was awarded the Oskar-Kokoschka-Prize of the Republic of Austria. The large number of awards Hartung received for his work prove him to be an artist of international importance.
He died in 1989 as one of the most important painters of the European Informel.