Hans Burkhardt was not an artists who sought self-promotion. He let his work speak for itself. He was a leader in the abstract expression mobement and surely one of the Southland’s greatest influences in art.
In 1924 he emigrated from Basel, Switzerland to New York. He shared Arshile Gorky‘s studio from 1929 to 1936. When he moved to Los Angeles in 1937, 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. for example, that the art he created in response to war – beginning with the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s and continuing through World War II, Vietnam and Desert Storm – 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.