Hans Burkhardt was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1904, emigrating to New York in 1924. Upon his arrival to New York, he became associated with the pioneers of what was to later emerge as the New York School, Arshile Gorky and Willem De Kooning. He shared Gorky’s studio between 1928 and 1937.
In 1937, arriving in Los Angeles, Burkhardt represented the most direct link to the New York School. In Los Angeles, he independently pursued his Abstract Expressionist style, often anticipating the work of his contemporaries and later artists on the East Coast and in Europe. His first solo exhibition in 1939 at the Stendahl Gallery was at the suggestion of Lorser Feitelson, who was responsible for Burkhardt’s inclusion in numerous national exhibitions. As Director of the L.A. Art Association, Feitelson chose Burkhardt to be the first artist afforded a solo show by the Association. Burkhardt’s paintings spanned the range of human emotion, and while perhaps having painted the most provocative body of work on the subject of war, spanning the Spanish Civil War through his final works of the 1990s, his ouevre was balanced by works of celebration. While Los Angeles art in the 1960s was seduced by California Light, Hard Edge, Minimalism and Pop Art, Burkhardt, in typical independent manner, created what many now regard as some of the most powerful examples of Abstract Expressionism and is also well-known for his richly drawn pastel abstractions of the figure.
Hans Burkhardt’s works have in recent years increasingly been exhibited in museum exhibitions nationally and internationally. He continues to attract significant critical attention from some of the leading art historians such as Peter Selz and Donald Kuspit. Burkhardt’s works are included in the collections of such major museums as the British Museum, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, Hirshhorn Museum, Palace of the Legion Honor, Santa Barbara Museum and Los Angeles County Museum. In 1992, Burkhardt was honored in New York by the American Academy of Art for his lifetime achievement. He died in Los Angeles in 1994. The Estate of Hans Burkhardt was exclusively represented by Jack Rutberg from 1973 to 2017.