Hans Hartung was born in Leipzig and has lived much of his life on the edge of catastrophe, but with the unshakable belief in the transforming power of art. He drew incessantly as a child, and his fascination from the very beginning was with abstract forms. For many years Hartung was to experience all the solitude and hardships that an artist breaking new ground is traditionally believed to undergo. In Paris he countered lack of money and loneliness by copying at the Louvre and visiting the galleries. He married Anna-Eva Bergman, a Norwegian painter and they moved to the island of Minorca off Spain.
As World War II neared, German residents became suspect and
they had to leave, even though they had very strong anti-Nazi
convictions. He joined the Foreign Legion and survived most
of the war without serious accident. Then, in 1944, while attempting
to rescue a comrade behind enemy lines, he was shot in the leg,
and eventually, the leg had to be amputated. Largely ignored
before the war, abstract artists increasingly occupied center
stage in Paris in the 1950s. Hartung began to exhibit.
Lived 1932-4 on Minorca, where he returned to a calligraphic abstract style. Moved to Berlin briefly in 1935, but then left Germany because of the Nazis and settled in Paris. Contacts with H-23lion, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and other abstract artists working there. In 1938, through friendship with Gonzalez, made a few sculptures. Fought in the French Foreign Legion and was gravely wounded in 1944. Began to paint again in 1945 after an interruption of six years. Took French nationality. Series of paintings with graphic signs and gestures inscribed with the brush or, from 1961, scratched into the wet paint; also some pictures from 1962 onwards with large shadowy dark patches. Awarded one of the two main painting prizes at the 1960 Venice Biennale. Married to the Norwegian painter Anna Eva Bergman and lives in Paris.