Hans Hartung - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, November 28, 2021 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • "In my opinion the painting which is called abstract is none of the 'isms' of which there have been so many lately, it is neither a 'style' nor an 'epoch' in art history, but merely a new means of expression, a different human language - one which is more direct than that of earlier painting." — Hans Hartung

    The German-French artist Hans Hartung was best known for his gestural paintings, monochromatic abstractions characterised by long rhythmical brushstrokes and scratches. His freewheeling style influenced many younger American painters in the 1960s, making him an important forerunner of American Lyrical Abstraction in the 1960s and 1970s.


    Born in Leipzig, Germany into an artistic family, Hartung developed an early appreciation of Rembrandt and the Expressionists Oskar Kokoschka and Emil Nolde. He was a precocious painter, experimenting with abstract expressionism whilst still a schoolboy, and after his art studies he moved to Paris to avoid succumbing to ‘provincialism’ in his artistic practice. The onset of the Second World War saw Hartung’s Cubist-style art declared ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, and he fled Berlin for Paris. Signing up with the French Foreign Legion, Hartung underwent many travails, including arrest by the French police who attempted to disrupt his vision by placing him in a red-painted cell, and losing his right leg in battle at Belfort.



    Hans Hartung, T1989-U40, 1989
    Sold by Phillips Hong Kong in June 2021 for HK$ 4,284,000
    © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


    After the war, and by now a French citizen, Hartung emerged as one of the stars of the Art Informel movement which sought a more fluid, intuitive form of expression. Alongside fellow Tachists Pierre Soulages, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Nicolas de Staël, Hartung forged a painterly abstract style that eschewed the aggressiveness of American abstract expressionism. Mixing acrylic paint, ink, chalk and pastel on canvas or cardboard, Hartung would scratch, scrape and reapply pigments in thatched lines and whirls. The spontaneous appearance of his paintings belied a highly rational method, with small studies first created and then transposed to larger canvases using a grid system. His work became more organic and less structured with his move to Provence in 1973. Preferring to paint at night amidst pounding Baroque music, this final period of his life was especially fruitful, with euphoric, vivid colours and energetic strokes filled with vitality permeating his works.



    Emil Nolde, Autumn Evening, 1924
    ©️ Nolde-Stiftung Seebüll


    Painted in the final year of the artist’s life, T1989-R31 dances with joyful, unbridled energy. A stroke had left the artist wheelchair-bound in 1986, and unable to hold a brush, he used an industrial paint gun to continue creating his paintings. Unperturbed by failing health, he never once shied away from experimentation, producing incredibly large canvases measuring up to 3 x 5 metres and incorporating new tools such as the ‘sulfateuse’, a metal canister with an adjustable hose to allow the artist to control the flow of pigment.  


    Hartung’s self-declared affinity for 'atmospheric and cosmic tensions, energies and radiations that govern the universe' and 'vital, natural, physical forces that I have always expressed through gesture’ coalesced in this period, with verdant green and shimmering strokes pointing towards the ineffable in T1989-R31. i 

    “As for me, I want to remain free. Of spirit, of thought, of action.” — Hans Hartung 


    Hans Hartung producing his art works during the late 1980s​​​​​
    © 2021 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


    Hans Hartung was the subject of a major retrospective in 2019-2020 mounted by the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, as well as a major show presented at the Kunstmuseum Bonn in 2018, which focused exclusively on the artist’s works from 1962-1989. His works are part of the collections of Paris’ Centre Pompidou and Musée d’Art Moderne, London’s Tate Modern, and New York’s MoMA, Guggenheim Museum of Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Art.  



    iTranslated from ‘L’art selon Hartung’ (‘Art According to Hartung’), Libération, 18 August 1988

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Milan (acquired directly from the artist in 1990)
      Artcurial, Paris, 28 June 2005, lot 350
      Private Collection
      Farsetti Arte, Prato, 28 May 2010, lot 681
      Private Collection, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Düsseldorf, Setareh Gallery, Hans Hartung: No. 2, 11 June - 29 October 2016
      Paris, Galerie A&R Fleury, Hans Hartung: Rigueur & Fulgurance, 19 October 2018 - 12 January 2019, p. 70 (illustrated, p. 71)




signed, titled and dated 'Fait le 28.5.89 Hartung "T1989-R31"' on the overlap; further signed with the artist's initials, dated and inscribed 'P.S. HH 89' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
142 x 180 cm. (55 7/8 x 70 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1989, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Fondation Hartung Bergman. This work is registered in the archives of the Fondation Hartung Bergman under archive number CT HH29-0, and will be included in the artist's forthcoming catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by the Fondation Hartung Bergman.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$1,764,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2021