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Hans Hofmann Photo

Hans Hofmann

German-American Painter and Theoretician

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: March 21, 1880 - Weissenberg, Bavaria

Died: February 17th, 1966 - New York City, NY

Hans Hofmann Timeline

Important Art by Hans Hofmann

The below artworks are the most important by Hans Hofmann - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

The Wind (c. 1944)
Artwork Images

The Wind (c. 1944)

Artwork description & Analysis: Pictures such as The Wind have been at the center of a long controversy over whether Hofmann inspired Jackson Pollock's use of the drip technique. Some have claimed that Pollock saw pictures like this when he visited Hofmann's studio in 1942, and that this inspired his first use of poured paint in 1943.It was first thought that this work was produced in 1942, but now, professionals believe, that The Wind was produced around 1944, and that it was Pollock and Hofmann's twin interest in the work of André Masson, among others, that led both men to experiment with dripped paint at the same time.

Oil, duco, gouache and India ink on poster board - Collection University of California, Berkeley Art Museum

Self-Portrait with Brushes (1942)
Artwork Images

Self-Portrait with Brushes (1942)

Artwork description & Analysis: Hofmann created many self-portrait drawings and paintings, usually depicting himself at work. Self-Portrait with Brushes is typical of his approach, yet it stands out in the way it combines styles to create an expressive character sketch. Using bold outlines to exaggerate his own features - creating a broad triangular nose and tousled hair - Hofmann projects a playful persona in a blue on yellow palette set within the interior space of his studio.

Casein on plywood - Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York

Ecstasy (1947)
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Ecstasy (1947)

Artwork description & Analysis: In 1947, Hofmann abandoned painting on board and began to use canvas. He also began to explore a wider variety of styles, and Ecstasy reflects his experiments, showing his continued loyalty to European masters such as Joan Miro and Hans Arp at a time when many of Hofmann's American colleagues were trying to overcome European influences.

Oil on canvas - University of California, Berkeley Art Museum

The Conjurer (1959)
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The Conjurer (1959)

Artwork description & Analysis: Moving from geometric into fluid forms and a more intense color range, The Conjurer demonstrates the diversity of Hofmann's mature style. He uses density of color and constellations of shapes to evoke psychological and spatial relationships, rather than objective reality.

Oil on canvas - Collection of Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich

The Garden (1956)
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The Garden (1956)

Artwork description & Analysis: Revisiting one of his earliest inspirations, Pointillism, Hofmann here uses thick dabs of paint to create the mosaic of polychromatic textures that structures the composition. The flowers depicted were those grown by his first wife, Miz, and the sumptuous blooms that emerge and recede in the picture create a dynamism that makes the color swirl.

Oil on Plywood - University of California, Berkeley Art Museum

To Miz - Pax Vobiscum (1964)
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To Miz - Pax Vobiscum (1964)

Artwork description & Analysis: Hofmann's first wife, Miz, was a constant support and companion to him for almost 60 years, and after her death he painted this vibrant canvas as a memorial. He used the relationship of bright colors to create shapes expressing his feelings of loss.

Oil on canvas - Collection Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, Museum purchase

Eiffel Tower with Trees (1910)
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Eiffel Tower with Trees (1910)

Artist: Robert Delaunay

Artwork description & Analysis: While living in Paris between 1904 and 1914, Hofmann received much of his education in art and theory from frequent encounters with Picasso, Matisse and Braque, and particularly from a close friendship with Robert Delaunay. Delaunay's work, such as his Eiffel Tower with Trees (which was part of a series devoted to the monument), showed Hofmann how he might balance color and form; it even encouraged him to paint his own quasi-Cubist still lifes.

Oil on canvas - The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Conversation (1908-12)
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The Conversation (1908-12)

Artist: Henri Matisse

Artwork description & Analysis: Hofmann admired few artists more than Matisse. Above all, he was in awe of the Frenchman's discipline and virtue, his unequivocal devotion to harmony in art. While Hofmann's own painterly style and application differed greatly from Matisse's, he considered the Frenchman's use of color to be exemplary and often cited his technique when instructing his own students.

Oil on canvas - State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Male and Female (1942)
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Male and Female (1942)

Artist: Jackson Pollock

Artwork description & Analysis: Lee Krasner, after meeting her husband-to-be, Jackson Pollock, convinced her long-time teacher Hans Hofmann to visit Pollock's studio, guaranteeing he would like what he saw. Upon his first visit, in 1942, Hofmann was impressed - albeit somewhat concerned with Pollock's casual attitude toward painting. Hofmann recalled being concerned over cans full of dried paint scattered around the studio, and Pollock's apparent disdain for most art. Yet Pollock was intimidated by Hofmann's knowledge of European art, and many still believe that Pollock's signature "drip" method originated from his encounters with the older man.

Oil on canvas - Philadelphia Museum of Art



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Hans Hofmann Photo

Related Art and Artists

The Old Guitarist (1903)
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The Old Guitarist (1903)

Artist: Pablo Picasso

Artwork description & Analysis: The Old Guitarist is characteristic of the somber melancholy of Picasso's Blue Period, and it was produced at the same time as a series of other pictures devoted to themes of destitution, old age, and blindness. The picture conveys something of Picasso's concern with the miserable conditions he witnessed while coming of age in Spain, and it is no doubt influenced by the religious painting he grew up with, and perhaps specifically by El Greco. But the picture is also typical of the wider Symbolist movement of the period. In later years Picasso dismissed his Blue Period works as "nothing but sentiment"; critics have often agreed with him, even though many of these pictures are iconic, and of course, unbelievably expensive.

Oil on canvas - Art Institute of Chicago

Bathers by a River (1917)
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Bathers by a River (1917)

Artist: Henri Matisse

Artwork description & Analysis: Matisse regarded this picture as one of the most important in his career, and it is certainly one of his most puzzling. He worked on it at intervals over eight years, and it passed through a variety of transformations. The painting evolved out of a commission from Matisse's Russian patron, Sergei Shchuckin, for two decorative panels on the subjects of dance and music, and, initially, the scheme for the picture resembled the idyllic scenes he had previously depicted in paintings such as Joy of Life (1905-06). However, his transformations gradually turned it into more of a confrontation with Cubism, and it is for this reason that the picture has been the subject of intense scrutiny. Although Matisse rejected Cubism, he certainly felt challenged by it, and this picture - along with many he painted from 1913 to 1917 - seems to be influenced by the style, since it is very unlike his previous, more decorative work. It is far more concerned with faithful representation of the structure of the human figure, and its position in space. The painting might be compared to The Backs series (1909-31), which also preoccupied Matisse the years he was working on Bathers, since both address the problem of depicting a three-dimensional figure against a flat background.

Oil on canvas - Art Institute of Chicago

Balustre et Crane (1938)
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Balustre et Crane (1938)

Artist: Georges Braque

Artwork description & Analysis: Balustre et Crane predicts a series of still lifes Braque created called Vanitas, in which objects symbolize agony or mental misery. He painted skulls repeatedly following his return from war and during the onset of World War II. In these paintings, Balustre et Crane in particular, Braque uses a bright array of colors to represent emotional reactions to the political discomfort he felt about the war.

Oil on canvas - Private Collection

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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