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Hans Burkhardt
Birth name Hans Gustav Burkhardt
Born 20 December 1904(1904-12-20)
Basel, Switzerland
Died 22 April 1994 (aged 89)
Los Angeles, California
Nationality Swiss American
Field Painting
Training Cooper Union School of the Arts
Movement Abstract expressionism
Awards Lifetime Achievement Award from American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1992

Hans Gustav Burkhardt (December 20, 1904 โ€“ April 22, 1994)[1] was a Swiss American abstract expressionist. In 1924 he emigrated from Basel, Switzerland to New York.[1] From 1925 to 1928 he attended the Cooper Union School of the Arts.[1] He shared Arshile Gorky's studio from 1928 to 1937.[1]

When he moved to Los Angeles in 1937,[1] Burkhardt represented the most significant bridge between New York and Los Angeles in that his paintings of the 1930s are part of the genesis of American abstract expressionism. He brought with him many of the nascent ideas of abstract and abstract expressionist painting that had been swirling among New York's artists, foremost among them, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. Working independently in Los Angeles, Burkhardt's experimental investigative approach allowed him to parallel, and in many instances anticipate, the development of modern and contemporary art in New York and Europe.

Burkhardt's ability to evoke compelling works of human empathy has led several of today's preeminent art historians and critics to regard many of his paintings to be among the major works of our time. It has been argued, for example, that the art he created in response to war โ€“ beginning with the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s and continuing through World War II, Vietnam and Desert Storm โ€“ represents a body of work unprecedented in the history of art. In his drawings, primarily through the use of the figure, has reflected the same richness of expressionism and symbolism for which he is known in his paintings.

Hans Burkhardt's works are included in major collections and museums internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the British Museum, Kunsthalle Basel, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Norton Simon Museum, and the Moderna Museet.

Hans Burkhardt retired as a professor emeritus from California State University, Northridge after teaching there for ten years.

His unique role as an important American painter is affirmed by the constant interest and continuing reassessment afforded his work. In 1992, Burkhardt was honored as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Also in 1992, he established the Hans G. and Thordis W. Burkhardt Foundation.

Hans was a friend of the American Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Tobey, who resided in Basel, Switzerland. Hans would often visit with Tobey in Basel.


  1. ^ a b c d e Burkhardt Foundation biography, Retrieved 21 May 2007


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