Born in St. Fiden (St. Gallen), Switzerland, John Hansegger (1908-1989)was educated in Europe. He had his first one-man show in Zug, Switzerland in 1928 where the local press noted that . . . the extraordinary exactitude of the paintings and the creative power of this young artist are remarkable,” He later joined the Kunstler-Vereinigung in Munich, Germany in 1933 where he participated in several exhibitions while he was sponsored by the Kunsthaus in Zurich. In 1937 he arrived in Paris where he joined with other noted painters of the “Surindependents” movement (including Paul Klee) and joined the “Allianz” (Confederation of Modern Swiss Artists in Zurich).
In 1942 he returned to his native Switzerland where he opened the Des Eaux Vives Gallery, which he operated until 1947. While living in Switzerland he also ran an art publishing house in association with his gallery. One of his earliest known publications was Ugo Pirogallo’s “Intime Reise,” (1945), which included eight color and black-and-white illustrations by Hansegger. In the late 1940’s he began touring around the world, with visits to Japan, Ecuador, and America. He settled permanently in the United States in 1948, where he had his first one man show in 1953 at the Princeton University Art Museum.
During his career he painted portraits of many famous politicians, scientists, artists, and statesman, including Pablo Picasso (1936), Sigmund Freud (1939 – etching), Albert Einstein (1953), Lotte Fuerstenberg-Cassierer, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Princess Dinah of Basutoland, Arturo Toscanini, Dr. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (author and professor at Columbia University), and many, many others. His portrait of Albert Einstein, which was painted in 1953, was so acclaimed that it was issued as a limited edition print in 1982. Noted art critic W.A. Heider commented on this portrait that “the whole life story of Einstein is seen in the expression of the eye, the spiritual power of a great mind, yet the kindness and humility which are the marks of a great human being.”
During the 1950’s and 60’s Hansegger focused on cubist-inspired, figurative works for which he is best known today. Much of this work was either discussed or featured in two books, Prof. Erik Larsen’s Hansegger: A Contribution to a Critical Study of His Art, published in 1961, and Hansegger: Paintings 1949-1960, written by Martica Swain and published in 1962.
In the mid-to late 1950’s, Hansegger began to move more and more towards landscape and still-life painting. One art critic noted that his landscapes evoked . . “the luminosity of the late Cezanne.” He is especially remembered today by many folk collectors for his whimsical “Rooster” series.
Widely exhibited during his career, some of the galleries and museums where his work was shown include the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey (1953), Gallery Moderne, New York (1954), Lotty Jacobi Gallery, New York (1955), Gallery 75, New York (1956), Artists Gallery, New York (1957), the National Arts Club, (1957), The Berkshire Museum, Massachusetts (1957), Nechemia Glezer Gallery, New York (1958), the Columbia County Centennial Exhibition, New York (1959), the Swiss Corporation for Canadian Investments Exhibition, Toronto (1969), the Spencer Gallery, New York (1970s?), and the Royce Gallery of New York.
Information provided by Geoffrey K. Fleming, New York