Les bibliothèques d'artistes

Bergman Hartung librairies

Founded in 1994 by the artists Hans Hartung (1904-1989) and Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-1987), the Hartung-Bergman Foundation preserves, in addition to a collection of works, a vast archive of notebooks, notes, manuscripts, correspondence, press clippings, magazines, diaries, professional documents (exhibition files, accounting), sales and exhibition catalogs, photographs, catalogs of works... A remarkable feature has, from the very beginning, determined the methodologies employed by the institution in dealing with this abounding archival mass: during their lifetime, Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman were concerned about their posterity and were therefore anxious to preserve their documentation and organize it. In 1957, they hired a secretary, Marie Aanderaa (b. 1925), a trained librarian, to oversee the day-to-day administration and artistic production. The Foundation thus inherited the first methodological bases in its inventory and classification mission. It is also necessary to underline the intense scientific work carried out since the beginning of the 1990s to improve the archiving process, in particular through the digitization of documents and database development.

However, there is a part of documentation that seems to have escaped somewhat from the Hartung-Bergman couple’s desire for rigorous and systematic archiving: the library. Until recently, it has remained a relatively under-exploited area of archiving. Two methodological issues structure the work on the Hartung-Bergman library. On the one hand, it is the library of a couple, each member of which had a different relationship to reading and to books as objects. On the other hand—and as a consequence—there is not one library but several libraries, or even, more broadly, "islands" of works that have received different archival and digital treatment over time. The collaboration with the Labex Pasts in the Present (Les Passés dans le present) and the Artists’ Libraries project (Les Bibliothèques d'artistes) aims precisely at gathering these islands into a coherent whole.

A shared library

Just as the works of Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman are held jointly in the Foundation's collections, the library is a shared element between the two artists. Although this is often a complex and sometimes uncertain process, it is possible to attribute a book to either Bergman or Hartung. In his youth, Hartung wrote his name or initials on the back cover. For Anna-Eva Bergman, part of her library is separate from the collection that we studied for the project: books that are part of two lists—one drawn up by Anna-Eva Bergman herself and the other that was established, after the artists' death, by Ole Henrik Moe, an eminent Norwegian art historian and musician (1920-2013) who was one of her closest friends. A third set, mainly consisting of books dedicated to Hartung or containing reproductions of his works, has gradually been incorporated into the foundation's research library and will have to be reintegrated into the collection.

In the Foundation's library, there are books from Hans Hartung's youth, autographed letters to Anna-Eva and Hans, as well as some books whose attribution is less clear.

Working on the library

The work that was done on the library was systematic. The books were not arranged in a precise order, although some large groups emerged. In addition to the books from the 1920s kept by Hans Hartung and abundantly annotated, one can note the preponderance of monographs by artists who influenced Hartung and Bergman, such as those by Picasso or Rembrandt. In addition, there are numerous items sent by artists who were contemporaries of the couple, such as Zao-Wou Ki, Pierre Soulages, Aglae Liberaki, Alberto Magnelli, André Masson... Another interesting set of books are those devoted to architecture, especially since they systematically include the artist's annotations. Finally, in the Hartung-Bergman library, the couple's travels throughout Europe during the 20th century are evident in the numerous travel guides, language dictionaries, and maps.

To go one step further in the discovery of Bergman and Hartung's shared library, we invite you to consult the few articles and reference works mentioned below, to explore our "Zoom in on..." section which is dedicated to architectural works and, of course, to browse through the works of their libraries.

Lucie Grandjean, doctoral student at Paris Nanterre University
et Elsa Hougue, coordinator of the Hartung-Bergman Foundation


Articles et ouvrages de référence 

On Hans Hartung's distant relationship to books and the question of his library—as a collection and as an object of furniture—we refer here to Thomas Schlesser's essential article, "Hans Hartung's Bookless Library" published in Les Cahiers du MNAM in the summer of 2018 (n°144).

Anna-Eva Bergman – Passages, exhinition Caen, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 14/11/19-01/03/20, Paris, Presses du réel/musée des Beaux-arts de Caen, 2019

Through several articles and the republication of Anna-Eva Bergman's account of her trip to the North Cape in 1950, this catalog from the Museum of Caen (Musée de Caen) traces the origins of the artist's plastic language, which distinguishes the whole of her future work.

Hans Hartung, Autoportrait, critical reprint by the Hartung-Bergman Foundation, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2016.

The new critical edition of this reference work for all specialists of the painter helps us know the artist better and, through small details, better understand his relationship to books and to reading more broadly.