Born September 21, 1904 in Leipzig, Germany, Hartung is self-taught, he studied philosophy and art history at the University of Leipzig, then artistic techniques in the academies of Dresden, Leipzig and Munich.
Hans Hartung gained an international reputation as a leader in informal art, which emerged in France during World War II. In addition to the apparent spontaneity of his gestural abstraction, recognizable by its audacity, and of an almost calligraphic quality, rationalism participated just as much in his style because of his early interest in the relationship between aesthetics and mathematics, in particular the harmony of the golden ratio. It was also a necessity: he meticulously adjusted his abstract sketches in order to reproduce them on larger canvases, which he could not afford to lose by indulging in improvisation.
The International Grand Prize for Painting, which he won at the 1960 Venice Biennale, marked a turning point in his career. He then began to improvise directly on canvas and experiment with new mediums, namely quick-drying vinyl and acrylic paints, as well as scraping and spraying techniques. His quest for a balance between spontaneity and perfection remained at the heart of his pictorial aesthetic until the end of his life.
In the 1960s, Hans Hartung and his wife Anna-Eva Bergman acquired a two-hectare olive grove on the heights of Antibes and established their villa and workshops there, according to Hartung’s own plans. This place where they lived and worked until the end of their existence is today a foundation which preserves collections of exceptional works and archives and constitutes a remarkable architectural ensemble, listed as a heritage of the 20th century.
Hartung died on December 7, 1989 at the age of 85.