The 1988 Sport Artist of the Year and renowned Swiss artist, Hans Erni, continues to awe the world with his inventive pieces at 105 years old.
The painter, sculptor and designer is best known for his illustrative postage stamps, lithographs and lively use of colors and shapes. A pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist Movement, Erni’s artworks display creativity, movement and interpretation and include themes such as technology, sport and nature.
His work adorns the walls of museums across the globe, including the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) in Daphne, Ala. Erni’s strong interest in sport is expressed through the 42 pieces of sport art housed in ASAMA.
“Hans Erni is a legendary artist and a national treasure for his native land of Switzerland,” said Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, President and CEO of the United States Sports Academy. “He is recognized as a great sports artist, and we are honored to have his work displayed in our American Sport Art Museum & Archives. He was the 1988 Sports Artist of Year.”
In 1976, Lucerne became host to the Hans Erni Foundation, which led to the establishment of the museum, the Hans Erni Haus in 1979. A vast amount of Erni’s pieces, approximately 300, are housed in this museum located on the grounds of the Swiss Transportation. Considered a living legend throughout his native country, Erni created tapestries, murals, mosaics and exhibitions, earning himself the title of a “Renaissance Man.”
Erni has worked closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for many years, including creating the mural, “Olympia – Myth and Reality”, for their session hall in Lausanne, Switzerland, exhibitions at various Olympic events and designing a gold medal in 1992.
Influenced by the works of Picasso and Braque, many of Erni’s original exhibited pieces were in the medium of paintings. Over time Erni began to favor graphic art, a medium that was very popular in Geneva, Switzerland post World War II. During the following 45 years, Erni created more than 750 prints, consisting of mostly colored lithographs.
Erni also designed more than 90 stamps for the United Nations and Switzerland throughout his career. Among some of his most notorious stamp designs are the issues for the 1972 Summer and Winter Olympics Games and the 250th anniversary of principality of Liechtenstein. He also created a series of lithographs for the Swiss Red Cross.
During the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition in Zurich, Erni received world-wide praise for his 300-foot mural, “Switzerland, the holiday destination of the nations.”
Erni’s extensive art education began in 1927 at the School of Arts and Crafts in Lucerne, Switzerland. From 1928-1929, he furthered his studies at Julian Academy in Paris and then traveled to the School of Applied Arts in Berlin.
An avid traveler during portions of his life, Erni spent time in Italy, Belgium, Africa, Germany and the United States soaking up every ounce of art knowledge available.