Hans Hartung - Galerie Max Hetzler
Installation view

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to present Hans Hartung, an exhibition of works from seven decades by the German artist, at Potsdamer Straße 77–87, in Berlin.

An artistic innovator, Hans Hartung (1904–1989) is renowned for his contribution to European post-war painting. Having already worked as an abstract painter before the Second World War, he developed a dynamic gestural style after 1945, and became one of the most important representatives of European Informel. His work is characterised by its spontaneous, emblematic compositions, which explore the interplay between colour field and line.

This exhibition presents an opportunity to rediscover Hartung’s extraordinary journey out of Germany and through Europe, arriving in Paris in 1936 where he fought against Nazism during the Second World War. Becoming severely wounded in battle in 1944, Hartung thought himself ruined in the aftermath of a traumatic conflict. However, in the 1950s, he became a central figure of abstraction on an international scale, and in 1960 he won the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale, with a room dedicated to his work in the French pavilion.

In the first comprehensive show in Germany since Hartung’s 2007 solo exhibition Hans Hartung: Spontaneous Calculus, Pictures, Photographs, Film 1922–1989, at the Museum der Bildenden Künste in his native city of Leipzig, works spanning the artist’s oeuvre are on view: from the figurative watercolours and Informel ink drawings of the 1920s to the explosive aerosol paintings of the 1980s, and even his final painting T1989-N10, 1989, created one week after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Comprising about fifty works and a selection of memorabilia from his archives, this exhibition presents the exceptional variety of Hartung’s work, marked by a skillful blend of fervour and mastery of gesture. This is apparent in the spectacular atmospheric works of the 1960s, the plunges into  bold pictorial lines in the 1970s, and the energy of the unruly brushstrokes of the 1980s. An exceptional piece within the exhibition is T1945-1, a two-sided work that has only been shown once since its creation, and consists of both a painting from 1938, and Hartung’s first work of 1945, remarkably painted the day after he lost his leg in battle. 

In his works on paper from the 1920s, Hartung conveys a non-representational style, with a graphic play of black lines against light backgrounds, often reminiscent of Chinese ink drawings. Hartung's lesser-known techniques and media are also on view, notably his acrylics on baryte cardboard, with their shiny, smooth and contrasting appearance, at times bordering on Pop art. Titled numerically and consecutively, the works offer an insight into the artist’s varying preoccupations over the course of his extraordinary career.

This exhibition is a collaboration between Galerie Max Hetzler, the Hartung-Bergman Foundation, Antibes, Perrotin, and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover.


Hans Hartung (1904–1989) was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1904 and died in 1989 in Antibes, France.  The artist’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions at international institutions including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris (2019); Kustmuseum Bonn (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, Siegen (2016); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo (2014); Roma Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Palazzo Polo, Rome (2013); Musée des Beaux-Arts de Vannes (2011); Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva (2011); Bibliothèque National de France, Paris (2010); Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence (2008); Kunsthalle zu Kiel (2008); Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig (2007); National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2005, travelled to National Museum, Nanjing); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (2004); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2004); Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Belfort (2003, also travelled to Musée du Château des Ducs de Wurtemberg, Montbéliard); Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Turin (2000); Tate Britain, London (1996); Musée Unterlinden, Colman (1989); Musée Picasso, Antibes (1987); Städtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf (1981, also travelled to Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich); Georges Pompidou, Paris (1977); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1975); Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (1974, also travelled to Nationalgalerie Berlin, and Städische Galerie I’m Lenbachhaus, Munich); and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1969, also travelled to Musée du Québec, and Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal), among others. 

Hans Hartung’s works are in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Art Institute of Chicago;  Centre Pompidou, Paris; Courtauld Gallery, London; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Kunstmuseum Basel; Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reine Sofía, Madrid; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Tate, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among others.


Press contact:

Galerie Max Hetzler
Honor Westmacott
honor(at)maxhetzler.com
Berlin: +49 30 346 497 85-0

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