Short Biography of Hans Erni (1909 - 2015)


Hans Erni was born on February 21, 1909 in Lucerne. He started his professional career with  an  appren-ticeship as measurement technician followed by a second apprenticeship as  building constructor. There he acquired his first knowledge about art literature, which made him decide to continue his professional career as an artist, so he attended the School of Arts and Crafts in Lucerne.

The years 1928-29 were spent in Paris where he  studied at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers and then at the Académie Julian. Only two months after his arrival in Paris he was awarded a first prize in an art competition. At that time he also made his first contacts with the Paris Art Scene.


Hans Erni in his Atelier

From 1930 to 1933 Hans Erni shifted several times between Paris and  Lucerne. He formed part of the Abstraction Creation-Group and met several contemporary artists (Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Gabo).

During 1937-38 Hans Erni worked in London where he met artists such as Alexander Calder, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He participated at abstract art exhibitions in Cambridge and Leicester.

Hans Erni created the gigantic mural entitled "Die Schweiz, das Ferienland der Völker" (Switzerland, Holiday Land of the People)  in 1939. Before he had been recognized only by a select circle of avant-garde connoisseurs but now he was starting to make a name for himself with the general public.

In 1944 the first retrospective exhibition of his collected works took place at the Lucerne Museum of Art. He performed his first work in ceramics in 1950 and at the beginning of the 1960's the first bronze sculptures were created. His very first stamp designs for Schweizerische PTT (Swiss Post) were issued in 1964 (Pro Aqua) and his first ever medal dates from 1968, a Jubilee Medal for the 50th anniversary of Circus Knie.

On September 15th, 1979, the Hans Erni Museum, situated on the grounds of the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, was inaugurated.  Hans Erni's postage stamp "Luft und Wasser" (air and water)  from 1988 was voted "Stamp of the Year" and in 1989 he received the "Sport Artist of the Year Award" from the United States Sports Academy in Alabama.

Hans Erni was honoured with a Medal of honour for his lifetime achievements in 2005 by his second home town - St. Paul-de-Vence (France). He lived and painted there over three decades (mainly during the summer months).

A detailed biography of Hans Erni can be found on his official homepage:
Link to the official biography of Hans Erni




Last modification:  22.09.2016 - 19:43:44