Werner Hartmann moved to Paris when he was 20 years old. He studied with André Lhote (1885-1962) and Roger Bissière (1886-1964), and became close friends with some of his fellow students, e.g. Hans Seiler (1907-1986), Jean Le Moal (1909-2007), and Alfred Manessier (1911-1993). He also continued to be in touch with his classmates from the Académie Ranson.
Werner Hartmann lived for more than 50 years in Paris and worked successively in five studios, all of which were located in the Montparnasse quarter.
He regularly met with the painters, sculptors, and musicians of the cosmopolitan Ecole de Paris, most notably with the Spaniards Francisco Bores (1898-1972) and Hernando Vines (1904-1993), with the Russian Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967) and his wife, the painter Valentine Prax (1897-1981), with the French-Finnish painter Leopold Survage (1879-1968), with the French François Desnoyer (1894-1972) and Charles Walch (1896-1948), and with the artists of the “réalité poétique” around Raymond Legueult (1898-1971) and Roland Oudot (1897-1981).
His Swiss friends included the painters Paul Basilius Barth (1881-1955), Wilhelm Gimmi (1886-1965), Serge Brignoni (1903-2002), Ernst Morgenthaler (1887-1962), and the sculptors Louis Conne (1905-2004), Otto Charles Bänninger (1897-1973), Walter Linck (1903-1975), and Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966).
«Paris sera toujours pour moi une fiancée éternelle».
From left to right: Raoul Domenjoz (1896-1978), Ernest Hubert (1899-1988), Werner Hartmann (standing), and Wilhelm Gimmi in front of a bistro in Paris, 1930s, photo Paul Senn (1901-1953)
Bernische Stiftung für Fotografie, Film und Video, Kunstmuseum Bern, Depositum Gottfried Keller-Stiftung.
© Gottfried Keller-Stiftung, Bern
In Paris, Hartmann entertained regular contact with writers and publishers such as Georges Borgeaud (1914-1998), Jean Follain (1903-1971), Jacques Schiffrin (1892-1950), and Robert Laffont (1916-2013).
In Switzerland, he associated with the poet Hans Leopold Davi (1928-2016), the writer Cécile Lauber (1887-1981), as well as the actors and stage designers Paul Schill (1903-1947), Rainer Litten (1909-1972), and Maurice Dusserre (1866-1996).
After having been introduced by his compatriot Conrad Beck (1901-1989) to the circle of émigré composers living in Paris, Hartmann established friendly relationships with the Czech Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959), with the Hungarian Tibor Harsanyi (1898-1954), with the Russian Alexander Tscherepnin (1899-1977) and his wife, the Chinese pianist Leo Hsien Ming (1915-1991), with the Rumanian Marcel Mihalovici (1898-1985) and his wife, the pianist Monique Haas (1909-1987) [who had been previously married to the Swiss composer Edward Stämpfli (1909-2002)], and with the pianist Ina Marika (1911-1991).
It was in this milieu that he met his future wife, Geneviève Hoummel (1920-2007), a passionate pianist and the sister-in-law of the cellist André Huvelin (1899-1978). A friend of Albert Roussel (1869-1937), Huvelin often invited his musician colleagues to his mansion of Mont-Saint-Léger in the Franche-Comté region, where Werner Hartmann used to work as well. In return, Huvelin would visit Hartmann’s studio at Rue Boissonade and play chamber music with pianist Geneviève Hoummel and musicologist-violinist Marc Pincherle (1888-1974).
In 1991, Pierre Cogen (born in 1931), principal organist at the Basilica of Sainte Clotilde in Paris, composed a work in remembrance of Werner Hartmann, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the artist’s death – “The apparition of our Lord,” inspired by Hartmann’s mural paintings in the catholic church of Gerliswil/Emmenbrücke (canton of Lucerne). The work was premiered there on November 10.
The artist and his wife are now buried on the adjacent cemetery.
(Translation Matthias Truniger)