Hans Hartung

Hans Hartung. Polittici

Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia
24 settembre 2017 - 7 gennaio 2018
a cura di Marco Pierini

The National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia celebrates Hans Hartung (Leipzig, 1904 – Antibes,1989), one of the leading figures of 20 th century European abstractionism.
The exhibition, curated by Marco Pierini, director of the National Gallery of Umbria, organised in collaboration with the Hartung-Bergman Foundation of Antibes and Magonza editore, presents 40 works on paper and 16 large paintings, created between 1961 and 1988 (six of which have never been exhibited before) for the first time displayed as a series in Perugia. The collection of the National Gallery of Umbria is very rich in panels from the 13 th to the 16 th century, by authors such as Duccio, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Perugino, many of which were originally created as polyptychs (although they have not always been preserved in their integrity). This collection was the starting point for the rediscovery of the works by Hartung as a homogeneous group: like these ancient ‘polyptychs’, also his are articulated in distinct elements that follow a fixed sequence, however the images have no hierarchical order only an arrangement in space. Hartung began creating the series of polyptychs – often identified as such by Hartung on the back of the works, despite the fact the term was never used as an actual title – in the early Sixties, when the artist began to paint directly on canvas without first conceiving his works on paper, experimented with new techniques, expanding the formats, and continued until th last period, when the artist was forced to use a wheelchair and had to airbrush his paintings. The exhibition also aims to retrace Hartung’s close ties with Italy, that date to the first half of the century. In 1926 Hartung travelled to Italy, where in addition to visiting symbolic cities such as Venice and Florence, he became fascinated by the Sicilian landscapes, in particular the natural spectacle of Mount Etna and the temples of Magna Graecia.
Hartung had a special relationship with Venice in particular, largely because of his numerous participations in the Biennale, from 1948 to 1984: here he was awarded the Golden Lion in 1960 (“the award pleased me more than all the military honours I have received. I was unanimously awarded the International Grand Prix of Painting. A room in the French pavilion was also dedicated to me and, finally, the bleak years were over”) and returned in 1984, in a different creative phase, with a selection of new large canvases, the backgrounds sprayed with airbrush on which he intervened with broad and sharp gestures using very diverse instruments such as broom tree branches dipped in black paint.
The catalogue, published by Magonza editore, contains essays by Marco Pierini, Thomas Schlesser, the president of Fondation Hartung-Bergman, Marco Vallora and Elsa Hougue, curator of Fondation Hartung-Bergman.