Hans Erni Biography

Hans Erni




Hans Erni, a Swiss painter, designer and sculptor whose career spans seven decades, was born in Lucerne, Switzerland on February 21, 1909. Erni attended the School of Arts and Crafts between 1927 and 1928. He spent the next few years traveling throughout Europe, staying briefly in Berlin before arriving in Paris, where he met Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973) and Geoge Braque (French, 1882–1963), both of whom greatly influenced his work. Upon returning to Switzerland, Erni co-founded Allianz, a group of Swiss-based abstract artists.

Though his work encompasses a broad range of styles, Erni is best known for his postage stamp illustrations, lithographs for the Swiss Red Cross, and participation on the Olympic Committee. Today, his work is mainly housed in The Hans Erni Museum, located on the grounds of the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne. Erni did the art for Swiss bank notes, in the 1940s but, after the notes were already printed they were never published, because a member of the State Council of Lucerne criticized that Erni was deemed as a communist. However, Erni was never member of any political party. In 2004, he was awarded the honorary citizenship of the city of Lucerne.

Hans Erni died in Lucerne, Switzerland on March 21, 2015 at the remarkable age of 106 years.