Born on September 21, 1904 in Leipzig, Germany, Hartung studied philosophy and art history at Leipzig University but left before graduating to study art at academies in Dresden, Leipzig, and Munich. Moving to Paris in the late-1920s, the artist joined the French Foreign Legion and was later imprisoned by the Gestapo during World War II, both for serving in a foreign army and his "degenerate" painting style. After the war, Hartung became associated with the artists Jean Fautrier and Pierre Soulages, who had also adopted a spontaneous and gestural style free from rigid formal constraints. Hartung's work would go on to have a significant impact on American abstract painters during the early 1960s, including Helen Frankenthaler and Sam Francis. The artist died on December 7, 1989 in Antibes, France. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., among others.


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