(b Leipzig, 21 Sept. 1904; d Antibes, 7 Dec. 1989). German-born abstract painter and printmaker who settled in Paris in 1935 and became a French citizen in 1946. During the Second World War he fought in the French Foreign Legion; he was badly wounded in 1944 and had a leg amputated without anaesthetic. Hartung was an individualist who pursued his own path, unconcerned with fashion and sustained by what he called ‘stubborn staying power’.
He had begun painting abstracts in 1922, when he was only 17, and he developed a sensuous, freely improvised style that anticipated post-war developments. It was only after the war that he made a reputation and was hailed as one of the pioneers of Art Informel. His fame was at its peak around 1960, in which year he was joint winner of the main painting prize at the Venice Biennale. In some of his paintings the vibrant thick black lines and blotches have a kinship with the work of Franz Kline, but Kline is more brusquely energetic and less subtle.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)