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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 17, 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)
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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

Hans Hofmann as Art Critic: His Reviews and Analysis of other Artists

Robert Delaunay: Eiffel Tower with Trees (1910)
Artwork Images

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

Henri Matisse: 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

Jackson Pollock: 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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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

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" 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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