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Hans Hartung was a German-French painter, known for his gestural abstract style. He was also a decorated World War II veteran of the French Foreign Legion.
Hartung was born in Leipzig, Germany into an artistic family. He developed an early appreciation of Rembrandt, German painters such as Lovis Corinth, and the Expressionists Oskar Kokoschka and Emil Nolde. In 1924 he enrolled in Leipzig University, where he studied philosophy and art history. He subsequently studied at the Fine Arts academy of Dresden, where he copied the paintings of the masters. The modern French and Spanish works he saw in 1926 at the Internationale Kunstausstellung in Dresden were a revelation to him, and he decided that he would leave his native country to prevent succumbing to provincialism. Consequently, after a bicycle trip through Italy, he moved to Paris.
During his first period, Hans Hartung paints watercolors and abstract paintings. After the war, he translates his nightmares and his suffering into abstract paintings. He recovers the canvas of hatchings and whirlwinds, drawn with India ink, oil or pastel. He thinks that only an informal painting, a "stain-ism" can tell the despair of the post-war years.
From 1960, he works on large formats with acrylic, alternately struck by fast scratched touches. He uses branches, brooms, combs to stigmatize his paint.
He is considered as the leader of "the Lyric Abstraction" today and as one of the biggest representatives of abstract art.