School of Paris abstract painter in oils and pastel, etcher and lithographer. Born at Leipzig. Became interested in painting, and in 1922 executed a series of abstract tachiste watercolours. Studied philosophy and art history at Leipzig University and art at the Academies at Leipzig 1924-5, Dresden 1925-6 and Munich 1928. Lived mainly in Paris 1926-31, with visits to Holland and Belgium, and was influenced by Rouault, Cézanne, van Gogh, and then by Cubism. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Heinrich Kühl, Dresden, 1931. Lived 1932-4 on Minorca, where he returned to a calligraphic abstract style. Moved to Berlin briefly in 1935, but then left Germany because of the Nazis and settled in Paris. Contacts with Hélion, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and other abstract artists working there. In 1938, through friendship with Gonzalez, made a few sculptures. Fought in the French Foreign Legion and was gravely wounded in 1944. Began to paint again in 1945 after an interruption of six years. Took French nationality. Series of paintings with graphic signs and gestures inscribed with the brush or, from 1961, scratched into the wet paint; also some pictures from 1962 onwards with large shadowy dark patches. Awarded one of the two main painting prizes at the 1960 Venice Biennale. Married to the Norwegian painter Anna Eva Bergman and lives in Paris.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.353