Hans Hofmann portrait, 1949 - Photo by Bill Witt

Hans Hofmann /   Johann Georg Albert Hofmann

Germany 1880 - 1966

Color Field, Abstract Expressionism

www.hanshofmann.org

Hans Hofmann
Johann Georg Albert Hofmann
Male
Germany
1880
June 1, 2017
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreja-velimirovi%C4%87-74068a68/

One of the most influential art teachers and modern painters of the 20th century, Hans Hofmann was a German Abstract Expressionist painter regarded as a key figure of the color field painting technique. His work emphasized the emotionally expressive potential of color, modulating the figure-ground relationships in his paintings in a method he referred to as the push and pull, a technique similar to the one that put Jackson Pollock, Hofmann’s close friend, on the map of modern art. Hans began painting in Paris where he worked alongside such titans of European Modernism as Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger and Henri Matisse. Although he would eventually be considered as one of the dominant Abstract Expressionists, it should be noted that Hofmann’s initial interest was in the illusion of the three-dimensional space, composition and the optical effects of color[1].

Hans Hofmann - Pompeii, 1959 - Image via tateorguk
Hans Hofmann – Pompeii, 1959 – Image via tate.org.uk

Early Life and Career in Paris

Hans’ true name was Johann Georg Albert Hofmann and he was born on March 21, 1880, in Weissenberg, Bavaria, Germany. He spent most of his early years in Munich. After initially devoting a lot of energy towards learning about math and science, Hofmann discovered a passion for art and eventually decided to pursue an education that allowed him to learn about painting. He moved to Paris in 1904 with the help of an art patron. There, Hans Hofmann studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and at the Académie Colarossi. Over time, the young artist immersed himself in Paris’ thriving art scene, meeting such artists as Pablo Picasso, Robert Delaunay, Henri Matisse and Georges Braque.

Hans Hofmann - Walls of Color - Image via thefrostedu
Hans Hofmann – Walls of Color – Image via thefrost.edu

The Decisive Move to the United States

During the time he spent in Paris, the work Hofmann created followed the leading avant-garde movement of the time — Cubism. Hans’ own style would come to be a fusion of various modes he learned from his friends, the leading artists of the early 20th-century modern art.[2] Before World War I started, Hofmann moved back to Germany. He was excused from military service because of an earlier respiratory condition. Unable to return to France during the war, he opened an art school in Munich in 1915 and earned a stellar reputation as an instructor of art[3]. Worth Ryder, a former student of his, invited Hofmann to teach in the United States for the summer of 1930 and, due to Germany’s changing political climate, Hofmann decided to permanently settle in NYC in 1932.

Hans Hofmann believed that an artist must create contrasts of color, form and texture in order to suggest depth and movement within a pictorial composition

Hans Hofmann - Cirrocumulus - Image via sothebyscom
Hans Hofmann – Cirrocumulus – Image via sothebys.com

Hans Hofmann – an Educator and an Artist

After basing himself in New York City, Hofmann brought with him a deep knowledge of French art, gleaned from years spent in Paris before World War I, and this proved crucial in spreading European modernist styles and ideas in the United States. Becoming known for his abstract paintings, he became a very popular and well-liked teacher in the world of art. Perhaps even more influential as a teacher than as an artist, Hofmann counted Helen Frankenthaler, Ray Eames, Allan Kaprow, Alfred Jensen, Joan Mitchell, Wolf Kahn, Lee Krasner, Louise Nevelson and Frank Stella as his top students. In addition to teaching, Hofmann also continued to make his own art, producing work that was created by dripping and splashing paint onto a canvas. By 1960, he was considered a leading abstract expressionist who created vivid and inventive paintings[4]. At the age of 85, Hofmann died on February 17, 1966, at his New York City home.

Hofmann believed that nature was the origin of art and, no matter how abstract his pictures seemed to become, he always sought to maintain in them a link to the real world

Hans Hofmann - Studio No. II in Blue, 1954 - Image via pinterestcom
Hans Hofmann – Studio No. II in Blue, 1954 – Image via pinterest.com

The Legacy of Hans Hofmann

It is not the form that dictates color, but the color that brings out the form. Hofmann stated this during an interview that took place in the final stages of his career and it’s a big question if he was aware of just how revolutionary and influential this statement will become. In many ways, it became a trademark of Abstract Expressionism, a movement that marked the American modern art history and made New York City a valid rival of Paris in terms of artistic influence. Ultimately, Hans Hofmann became renowned as a modern art history’s Great because of his explorations with the relativity of color, his push-pull technique and his ability to produce abstract effects of movement, space, and depth.

References:

  1. Dickey, T., Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann, Trillistar Books; First edition, 2011
  2. Hunter, S., Yohe, J., Stella, F., Dickey, T., Hans Hofmann, Rizzoli; Slp edition, 2006
  3. Rogala, D. V., Hans Hofmann: The Artist’s Materials, Getty Conservation Institute; 1st edition, 2016
  4. Wilkin, K., Polednik, M., Greenwold, D., Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, 2017

Featured Image: Hans Hofmann – Photo of the artist – Image via hanshofmann.org
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Hans Hofmann: The Post-War YearsAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2016Push And Pull: Hans HofmannBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA Solo
2016Hans HofmannAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2016Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans HofmannUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC Solo
2016Postwar New York: Capital of the Avant-GardeAcquavella Galleries, Inc., New York City, NY Group
2016 De Kooning in CompanyWeatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC Group
2015Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans HofmannFrost Art Museum, Miami, FL Solo
2015Hans HofmannCrane Kalman Gallery, London Solo
2015Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans HofmannBruce Museum, Greenwich, CT Solo
2015Mixed ExhibitionCrane Kalman Gallery, London Group
2015Tales Of HofmannJulie Heller Gallery, Provincetown, MA Group
2015The Patton Collection, A Gift to North CarolinaNorth Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC Group
2015Jahrhundertzeichen. Tel Aviv Museum of Art visits BerlinMartin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin Group
2014Hofmann by HofmannBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA Solo
2014why nature?Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York City, NY Group
2014A Selection of European, American and Asian ArtCrane Kalman Gallery, London Group
2014Summer Salon 2014ACME Fine Art & Design, Boston, MA Group
2014SummertimeMoeller Fine Art Ltd, New York City, NY Group
2014Form Figure Abstraction 1940-1960DC Moore Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2014Tête-a-TêteKM Fine Arts Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA Group
2014Hans Hofmann, Joan Mitchell, Sam FrancisGalerie Thomas Modern, Munich Group
2013Hans Hofmann: Early DrawingsACME Fine Art & Design, Boston, MA Solo
2013Hans Hofmann: RectanglesBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA Solo
2013Magnum OpusMuseum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern Solo
2013Crosscurrents in Modern ArtMoeller Fine Art Ltd, New York City, NY Group
2013Red Contemporary MastersGalerie Antoine Helwaser, Paris Group
2012Hans HofmannNew York Studio School, New York City, NY Solo
2012Hans Hofmann: Art Like Life Is RealAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2012Kunst Ist Schön, Macht Aber Viel ArbeitStädtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus & Kunstbau, Munich Group
2012Abstract ExpressionismNational Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT Group
2012On Paper: From Baselitz To WarholKM fine Arts, Chicago, IL Group
2012Variations on ThemeDallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX Group
2012Early Summer PreviewWeber Fine Art of Greenwich, Greenwich, CT Group
2012Provincetown ViewsACME Fine Art & Design, Boston, MA Group
2012Thanks: 50th Anniversary ExhibitionCarl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH Group
2011The Expressionist LandscapeACME Fine Art & Design, Boston, MA Group
2011Evolution in ActionMichael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2011The Shape of the ProblemElizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR Group
2011Summer PaperLori Bookstein Fine Art, New York City, NY Group
2011DrawingsValerie Carberry Gallery, Chicago, IL Group
2011Gallery SelectionsHollis Taggart Galleries, New York City, NY Group
2011Abstract Expressionism: Reloading the CanonMichael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2010Hans HofmannBerta Walker Gallery, Provincetown, MA Solo
2010Hans Hofmann: Circa 1950The University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC Solo
2010Sketching Along the RoadAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2010Color FieldsDeutsche Guggenheim, Berlin Group
2010The FigureJerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC Group
2010Neighbors in a Great ExperimentAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Group
2009Hans Hofmann, Color in BlackAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2009Hans Hofmann: Circa 1950Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA Solo
2009Hans Hofmann: DrawingsCarl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH Solo
2009Master DrawingsBerta Walker Gallery, Provincetown, MA Group
2009Inside AbstractionJanet Kurnatowski Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2009Days Lumberyard StudiosACME Fine Art & Design, Boston, MA Group
2009Gallery SelectionsHollis Taggart Galleries, New York City, NY Group
2009Gallery SelectionsHollis Taggart Galleries, New York City, NYGroup
2008Hans HofmannBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA Solo
2008Hans Hofmann: Poems & Paintings on paperAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2007Hans Hofmann: Exuberant EyeKM fine Arts, Chicago, IL Solo
2006Hans HofmannAmerican Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich Solo
2006Hans HofmannBerta Walker Gallery, Provincetown, MA Solo
2006Hans HofmannAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2005Hans HofmannAmeringer | McEnery | Yohe , New York City, NY Solo
2004Hans HofmannAmerican Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich Solo
2004Hans HofmannDes Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA Solo
2004Hans HofmannBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA Solo
2003Hans HofmanHackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA Solo
2002Hans HofmannAmerican Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich Solo
2002Hans HofmanHackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA Solo
2000Hans HofmannAmerican Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich Solo
1999Hans HofmannManny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Solo
1999Hans Hofmann "The American years"MAM Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art, Vienna Solo
1999The American Years RetrospectiveResidenzgalerie Salzburg, Salzburg Solo
1997Hans HofmannArthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA Solo
1994Hans Hofmann, "Paintings Large and Small,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1993Hans Hoffman, "Selected Works,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1991Hans HofmannChrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA Solo
1990Hans Hofmann, "The 1950 Chimbote Mural Project,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1990Hans HofmannWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY Solo
1990Hans Hofmann, "Paitings on Paper from the 1940s,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1989Hans Hofmann, "The Post-War Years: 1945-1949,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1987Hans Hofmann, "The Push and Pull of Cubism,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1987Hans Hofmann, "The Pre-War Years in America,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1985Hans HofmannThe Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX Solo
1985Hans Hofmann, "Major Paintings 1954-1965André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1983Hans Hofmann, "Paintings on Paper: 1958-1965,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1982Hans Hoffman: Colorist in Black and WhiteMary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston, IL Solo
1982Hans Hofmann, "The Small Late Paintings,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1980Hans Hofmann: The Renate SeriesThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY Solo
1980Hans Hofmann, "Private-Scale PaintingsAndré Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1979Hans Hofmann, "Provincetown Landscapes 1941-1943,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1978Hans HofmannAndré Emmerich Gallery, Zurich Solo
1978Hans Hofmann, "Provincetown Landscapes 1934-1945,"André Emmerich Gallery, New York City, NY Solo