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Hans Hofmann (1880-1966)
NMAA

Cleveland Mus. of Art

Berkeley Collection

Berkeley Collection (kidsguide)

National Portrait Gallery

L.James Grattan and Associates

Hofmann became a close friend of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Delaunay and other modern painters while a student in Paris at the turn of the century and was present at birth of Cubism and Fauvism.

cubism: emphasis on forms

Fauvism: vivid expressiveness of color

Hofmann started teaching in Munich in 1915.

Bauhaus: "less is more" (Mies van der Rohe)

style - simplicity; functional geometric shapes; increased use of technology

He spent the summer of 1930 as visiting professor at U. of California at Berkeley, returned as visiting professor in 1931 and moved to U.S. (East) in 1932 (the year before Hitler came to power)

Hofmann opened a school in New York (1934) then ran a summer school at his summer retreat in Provincetown Massachusetts.

Abstraction had become out of fashion during Depression (see Social Realists, Unit 7). For those who insisted that art serve a "higher purpose" Art for Art's Sake was selfish and unproductive.

Hofmann's teaching: painting is first and foremost an esthetic experience. To force it to serve any other master was to corrupt it.

Before anything else painting is arrangement of colors and forms on two-dimensional surface.

"Push and Pull" - tension between flat surface of canvas and the sense of depth, or third dimension, evoked by the elements of color and form that the painter places upon that surface.

"Depth...is not created by arrangement of objects one after another toward a vanishing point (Renaissance perspective) but on contrary by creation of forces in sense of push and pull."

Some colors advance; other colors recede.

Some forms seem to lie behind others.  Some textures form hills, others form valleys.

Each element is opposed by countering element.

Everything remains on the surface but appears to be moving, creating the illusion of depth.

"Give and Take" - (force of an evolving painting on its creator) An abstract artist does not begin with the image he wants to record but it controlled by what he does on the canvas. Each line and color affects the painting in a way the artist cannot predict. (The artist is dictated to by the painting in process.) There is a constant "dialogue" between artist and painting.

key2.gif (90 bytes) We use hands (Hans) to push and pull, give and take.