Hans Hartung’s early artistic endeavours showed nothing of the originality that was to come. He began by replicating old masters, particularly the German painters, at the Fine Arts Academy of Dresden. It was while in Dresden, in 1922, that he saw an exhibition that changed his life. The Internationale Kunstausstellung showcased modern French and Spanish painters and at this moment Hartung knew that he had to leave Germany and expand his horizons. He experienced much personal and social turmoil throughout the 1930s and 40s, while at the same time developing his own unique style. His first solo exhibition finally came in Paris in 1947.
Hans Hartung gained a reputation in the 1950s for his gestural, abstract art, that was characterised by single colour panels and lengthy, dynamic brushwork and scratches. A consummate innovator, he used a bewildering number of tools to create his art, including garden equipment, plant fronds and a wheelchair. His experimental and free approach inspired a generation of artists, especially the American Lyrical Abstraction movement. He was a key player in Warren Forma’s 1963 documentary ‘The School of Paris’. He continued to create unbound, expressive art until he died in 1989 at the age of 85 in France. His awards include the International Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale in 1960.