Hans Schwarz 1922 - 2003

Hans Schwarz was born into a Jewish family in Vienna in 1922. He showed early talent as an artist, but his education was cut short after the Anschluss in 1938. In 1939 he came to Britian with the Kindertransport age 16, sponsored by Cadbury Ltd. He lived and worked at Bournville where his talents were recognised by his employers, but his education was again cut short when he was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. He returned to Bournville in 1941 and studied at Birmingham College of Art. After graduating, he embarked on a career in graphic design and illustration whilst also teaching in various art colleges and painting when he could. He married Lena in 1945 and they lived in Halesowen where they had two sons. Schwarz completed several commissions for murals in public buildings and at the 1951 Festival of Britain.

In 1953 they moved to Hampstead, joining many other European émigrés. As a graphic artist and illustrator he earned his living doing work for many organisations including Shell, the GPO and BOAC. He painted when he could and in 1964 he took up painting and sculpture full time. He bought a house in Somerset where, after two years as a holiday home he moved permanently. Schwarz’s paintings until this time had largely been in oils. His landscapes, many of them painted on visits to Europe had been dark and sombre. He had become known as a portrait painter and was becoming more interested in painting people. He resisted the fashionable move towards abstract expressionism at the time, and refused to align himself with any school or group. He was heavily influenced by his compatriot Kokoschka and by neo-romantic British artists.

Schwarz’s move to Somerset gave him the opportunity to sculpt on a larger scale and he completed several commissions for sculpture and reliefs in public spaces. This period was also pivotal in his career as he discovered the possibilities of watercolour, which he used in an unconventional manner, mixing it with a variety of other media. His paintings became lighter with greater use of colour and a broader palette. He continued to use oils and to do portrait commissions. He also wrote several books on painting and drawing.

In 1970 the family moved to Greenwich, whilst keeping the Somerset house for holidays. Here Schwarz built his reputation as a portrait painter and completed his most celebrated work, that of the three Trades Union leaders - a commission from the National Portrait Gallery. He painted many well-known figures and actors. He continued to paint landscapes both in London, Somerset and elsewhere. He worked very quickly and with fervour.

After Schwarz's death, much archival material was given to the Research and Cultural Collections at The University of Birmingham

Schwarz was a member of:

Royal Watercolour Society (RWS)
Royal Society of British Artists (RBA)
Contemporary Portrait Society
New English Art Club (NEAC)
Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP)
Honorary Life Member of Hampstead Artists Council


One-man shows:

Hilton Gallery, Cambridge 1955
Artists International Association Gallery, London 1958 & 1960
Hyde Park Gallery, London 1960
Greenwich Gallery, London 1964
Bridgwater Arts Centre, Somerset 1968
Dulverton Gallery, Somerset 1968
Greenwich Theatre gallery, London 1971
Camden Arts Centre, London 1966 1981, 1983
Thackeray Gallery, London 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993
Compton Gallery, London 1982
Ben Uri Art Gallery, London 1985 (with Julian Schwarz)
Thackeray Gallery, London 1988
Steinberg Centre for Judaism, London 1991
New Academy Gallery, London 1995
Lynda Cotton Gallery, Watchet, Somerset 2000

Schwarz exhibited widely at many galleries from 1940-2003, including:

AIA Gallery, London
Bankside Gallery, London
Beaux Arts Gallery, London
Birmingham Society of Artists
Burgh House, London
Business Art Gallery, London
Camden Arts Centre, London
Compton Gallery, London
Dudley Gallery, Dudley
Federation of British Artists Gallery, London
Gallery 10, London
Grosvenor Gallery, London
Hampstead Arts Council, London
Highhill Gallery, London
Lynda Cotton Gallery, Watchet, Somerset
Mall Galleries, London
Medici Gallery, London
New Academy Gallery, London
New Grafton Gallery, London
New Street gallery, Birmingham
Odeon Theatre, Blackheath, London
Phoenix Gallery, Suffolk
Picadilly Gallery, London
Quantas gallery, London
Royal Academy, London
Thackeray Gallery, London
Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
Woodlands Art Gallery, London
Zwenner Gallery, London

Works in public collections at:

Burgh and Hampstead Museum
Girton College, Cambridge
Glasgow Art Gallery, Scotland
Halifax Art Gallery, New Zealand
Museum Of Somerset, Taunton
National Maritime Museum, London
National Portrait Gallery, London
Newport Art Gallery, Wales
Science Museum, London

Books by Hans Schwarz:

Schwarz H & L 1955; “The Halesowen Story”; H Parkes Ltd (Reprinted 2011 by Hales Owen Abbey Trust)
Schwarz H 1967; Figure Painting; Studio Vista
Schwarz H 1968; Colour for the Artist; Studio Vista
Schwarz H 1969; Painting in Towns and Cities; Studio Vista
Schwarz H 1979; Draw in Pencil; Taplinger Publishing Co
Schwarz H 1980; Draw Buildings and Citiscapes; Pitman press
Schwarz H 1981; Draw Sketches; A & C Black
Gibbs V (pseudonym) 1982; Draw Transport; A & C Black