He moved to Los Angeles in 1937, and Burkhardt represented an important link between New York and Los Angeles because his paintings were a precursor to American Abstract Expressionism. He brought with him many of the burgeoning ideas of 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 anticipate the development of 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 that the work he created in response to war throughout his career represents a body of work unparalleled 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.
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, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Norton Simon Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Hans Burkhardt retired as a professor 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. He established the Hans G. and Thordis W. Burkhardt Foundation in 1992.
Oil on Canvas