Jan Müller was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1922. His father was a political activist who fled from Hitler in the 1930s, emigrating with his family to the U.S. in 1941. Müller studied painting under Hans Hofmann from 1945-50. In 1954, Müller underwent heart surgery during which a plastic pacemaker was implanted. This constant reminder of the passage of time is perhaps, in part, responsible both for the fury with which he painted until his death in 1958 and the urgency with which he made the radical and courageous shift from abstraction to figuration.
Jan Müller’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, The Jewish Museum, and the 1962 Venice Biennale among others. The artist regularly showed with the Hansa gallery, of which he was a founding member, until his untimely death. A seminal work by Jan Müller is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in the exhibition Soldier, Spectre, Shaman: The Figure and the Second World War, on view through March 20, 2016.