In this print of a rearing horse, Hans Erni creates movement through the rapidly sketched and unfinished lines representing the horse’s legs. The use of wash and patches of orange and white colour on a pale background also lend dynamism to the work.
In a career that lasted over 80 years, Erni produced hundreds of paintings, sculptures, lithographs, engravings, etchings and ceramics. He also designed theatre costumes and sets. Many of his works featured figurative motifs such as doves and horses. His work ranged greatly in scale, from tiny postage stamps to huge frescoes.
Born in Lucerne in 1909, Hans Erni studied art in Paris and Berlin. Early in his career, he was strongly influenced by the abstract work of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. In 1939, he was commissioned to produce 'Switzerland, Vacation Land of the People', mural 60 metres long for the entrance to the UN building in Geneva. Other commissions followed but Erni's political leanings towards Communism often counted against him. In the 1940s, he produced designs for new Swiss bank notes, however these were never printed due to his political sympathies. Erni eventually renounced Communism after the 1956 uprising in Hungary was crushed. He created over 90 stamp designs for Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Nations.
Erni continued working late into his life, completing a series of paintings for the International Olympic Committee in his eighties; and painting a fresco at a church in St-Paul-de-Vence in Provence, southern France, where he had a holiday home. His first wife, Gertrud Bohnert and his daughter, Simone, were also artists.
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