Movement: Abstract Expressionism
Hans Hofmann's Famous Artworks
“Orchestral Dominance in Green,” 1954
“The Gate,” 1959-60
“The Source,” 1962
“Te Deum,” 1964
“Beatae Memoriae,” 1964
Hans Hofmann was an Abstract Expressionist painter and teacher of German origin, who was also an influential teacher in Germany and the United States. He became an American citizen in 1941. Hans Hofmann's artworks
have been appreciated worldwide.
Hans Hofmann's Background
Hans Hofmann was born in 1880 in Weissenburg to Theodor Friedrich Hofmann and Franziska Manger Hofmann. He was one of five children. After relocating several times, the family moved to Munich in 1886. He began working in an administrative position at the State Ministry of the Interior in 1898–99, the same years that he began his art education with the German artist Moritz Heymann. In 1900, he continued studying under Heymann, and also studied graphic art at Heinrich Wolff and Ernst Neumann’s school. Following this, he studied with the Bulgarian artist Nikolai Michaeiloff and Slovene artist Anton Ažbe.
Hans Hofmann's Years in Paris
Hofmann met Maria “Miz” Wolfegg, his future wife, and his first patron, Philipp Freudenberg, a businessman, and art collector, in the early years of the 20th century. He made several portraits of Miz in the early years, experimenting with the Pointillist technique.
The financial stability afforded by Hofmann’s association with Freudenberg over the next decade allowed him and Miz to move to Paris in 1905. Here he socialized with other German artists and dealers and also became acquainted with Parisian artists including Picasso, Braque, and Derain. In 1908, his painting “Akt” was included in the exhibition of the Berlin Secession. A significant joint exhibition with the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka was held at the Paul Cassirer Gallery in Berlin in 1910. In 1913, he and Miz decided to travel to Corsica on a study tour. The plan was supported by his patron and the couple intended to return to Paris after completing their trip. However, after Germany
declared war on Russia in 1914, they were compelled to return to Munich. He lost all the paintings and possessions stored in their Paris apartment.
Hans Hofmann's Return to Germany
In 1915, Hofmann was discharged from military service and opened the School of Fine Art in Munich. He began holding summer sessions for the school outside of Munich from 1919. From 1923, the summer sessions were held outside of Germany. Along with this, his reputation as a forward-thinking art teacher grew in Munich and a number of students came to the School of Fine Art to learn from him by the mid-1920s.
Hans Hofmann's Years in America
Hofmann traveled to the University of California at Berkeley for a summer session in 1930 and 1931. On the second visit, Hofmann had his first exhibition in the United States at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Hofmann visited the United States through the 1930s, traveling to Massachusetts and New York where he taught at the Art Students League, apart from California. The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art opened in New York in 1934. By 1938, prompted by news of the impending war in Europe, Hofmann applied for American citizenship, which he finally received in 1941. Miz joined him in 1939.
One of Hofmann’s prominent students was Lee Krasner, who later established herself as a prominent Abstract Expressionist. Through Krasner, he met many people, including Jackson Pollock and Peggy Guggenheim, who organized his first exhibition in New York City. In the early 1940s, he began experimenting with an Abstract technique that was popularized about a decade later by Jackson Pollock. A number of solo, as well as group exhibitions in several galleries
, followed throughout the 1940s and 1950s, as did invitations to talks, retrospective exhibitions, and features in magazines.
Hans Hofmann's Later Years
In 1960, Hofmann, among other artists, was selected to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. His first solo show in Germany was organized by the Fränkische Galerie am Marientor in Nuremberg in 1962. The show traveled to different parts of Germany.
Hofmann received numerous awards during his lifetime including the Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Art Institute Medal and Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1963, and an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College in 1962. He served as a juror for the Guggenheim International Award and became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letter in 1964.
After Miz’s death in 1963, Hofmann became close to Renate Schmitz, whom he married in 1965.
Hans Hofmann's Death and Legacy
Hofmann died in New York City after suffering a heart attack on February 17, 1966.
Hofmann’s book “Search for the Real” was an influential theoretical contribution. He also taught many artists, such as Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler, among many others, who were mainly working as Abstract Expressionists. You can buy Hans Hofmann's artworks online
Hans Hofmann's Major Exhibitions
1947 - Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, New York
1963 - Museum of Modern Art, New York
1964 - Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans
1964 - Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires
1965 - Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
1965 - Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin
1965 - Kunstverein, Hamburg
1972 - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
1972 - Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York
1988 - Tate Gallery, London
1999 - Residenz Galerie Salzburg
2008 - Ameringer & Yohe Fine Art, New York
Hans Hofmann's Museums / Collections
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Art Institute of Chicago
Honolulu Museum of Art
Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Tate Gallery, London
Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Books / Publications
“Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann” by Tina Dickey
“Hans Hofmann” by Cynthia Goodman
“Hans Hofmann” by Helmut Friedel and Tina Dickey
“Hans Hofmann” by Sam Hunter and James Yohe
“Hans Hofmann: The Unabashed Unconscious Reflections on Hofmann and Surrealism” by Jed Perl
“Hans Hofmann: Magnum Opus” by Annette Reich and Karen Wilkin