Fondation Hartung-Bergman


Hans Hartung (1904-1989)

Hans Hartung is commonly presented as a standard-bearer for the "Ecole de Paris" and the "lyrical abstraction" and primarily considered as a post-war painter. Nevertheless, in the late 30s, the German born artist has already participated in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe. His career really began in 1922: aged just eighteen, even he doesn’t know the theories of Kandinsky, he produces a series of abstract watercolors striking by their sheer expressiveness. This is the beginning of a career that lasted nearly seventy years and was punctuated by constant technical innovations. Paradoxical artist, Hartung will often be at the opposite of the image the critics build of him, resulting in a "distorted reception" (Annie Claustres). Presented as a champion of a gestural, lyrical and emotional painting, he remains yet also passionate for mathematics, and his painting must be apprehended through its rationality: from the 30s to the late 50s, he first produces small-size works, spontaneously executed on paper; then he creates the painting by laying down a grid and scaling up the small-size paper onto a canvas, referring point by point. The 60s also mark a turning point. Hartung stops working by reproducing small formats, but enter a patient search for technological innovation, including the production of multiple tools. 1960 is also the date on which he won the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale, reaching the top of international recognition. Hartung will never stop creating, painting with still more ardor until his last days in his property of Antibes that he designed himself.

Besides a life dedicated to painting, Hans Hartung’s path is a journey into history, to which he is confronted by interrupting his career during World War II. Twice, he will engage in the Foreign Legion to fight alongside France against Germany - his home country - and will lose a leg in combat. He will get French nationality in 1946. His life and career are inseparable from those of Anna-Eva Bergman, woman artist he met in 1929 in Paris. Married in 1929, a few months after they met, they divorced in 1938. By 1939, Hartung remarried the artist Roberta González, daughter of the sculptor Julio González. After the episode of the war and his return to Paris, Hartung’s path crossed again Anna-Eva Bergman’s in 1952 and they resumed the course of their relationship; Hartung divorced Roberta González and remarried with Bergman in 1957. Soon after, as they are living in their studio in the Rue Gauguet in Paris, they make the project to design their villa and studios on the French Riviera, in a space perfectly suited to their needs. They buy an olive grove in 1960 in Antibes and Hartung designs the plans of the property. In 1973, after five years of construction, the couple moves to the "Champ des Oliviers" with the idea already in mind to transform this place, after their death, into a foundation.