Hans Erni Lithographs
El Paso Museum of Art
March 25 through July 8, 2012
Hans Erni Lithographs will open to the public Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM in the Gateway Gallery at the El Paso Museum of Art. Admission to the Museum and this exhibition are free to the public.
Hans Erni, often called the Swiss Picasso, is one of the best-known Swiss artists of the 20th century. The chronology of his many achievements could be spread among the careers of several artists. In addition to his art, Erni has worked as an anthropologist and lobbyist for humanity. His work in all its various forms is largely public and speaks of his respect for his fellow humans in a simple and powerful way.
Born in Lucerne in 1909, Erni was at the forefront of developments in abstract art in Paris, and for almost eighty years helped to shape modern art. Erni studied at the School of Arts and Trades in Lucerne beginning in 1927, and in 1928 he went to Paris to attend the Julien Academy. He expanded his international experiences at the School for Fine and Applied Art in Berlin from 1929 to1930. During the 1930s, Erni moved between Paris and his Lucerne-based studio. He had contacts with many artists including Constantin Brancusi and Vasily Kandinsky, and he was strongly influenced by the works of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. In 1933 he joined the “Abstraction-Création” group in Paris and later co-founded the Abstract Alliance in Switzerland.
Erni’s works reveal his admiration for ancient Greek art as well as modern concepts of abstraction and realism. He frequently incorporates classical motifs such as mythological characters and clean-lined nudes. Erni’s experiences of the 1930s were critical in shaping the artist’s style of boldly outlined figures and a limited, almost industrial color palette. During the early 1930s Erni worked under the pseudonym “François Grècque,” paying homage to classical Greek art and French influence. The later 1930s and ’40s saw Erni move between London and Europe and begin public work such as frescoes, murals, postage stamps, book illustrations, sculpture, ceramics, costumes, fountains, stained glass, and numerous paintings. This activity brought him recognition across Europe and continues to the present day.
In the 1950s Erni traveled extensively through Africa and Asia and attended to professional duties as Art Director for projects with Aldus Books in London and Doubleday Inc. in New York City. Throughout the remaining decades of the 20th century he continued to express his regard for humanity in works with political, social, and anthropological themes. Erni designed theater sets and costumes, murals, and campaign designs for the likes of the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the International Olympic Committee while producing paintings, lithographs, and the public work which marked his career to this point. 1979 brought the opening of the Hans Erni Museum in Lucerne. Erni continued to garner recognition from numerous entities, winning awards, international acclaim, and an abundance of high-profile commissions. Critics praise the international appeal, social purpose, and the viability of Erni’s work. As of early 2012, Erni continues to live and work near Lucerne and frequently attends exhibit openings, lectures, and other events throughout Europe.