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Hans Hofmann

Hans Hofmann

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Hans Hofmann was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.

Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich. Here his father took a job with the government.

Starting at a young age, Hofmann gravitated towards science and mathematics. At age sixteen, he started work with the Bavarian government as assistant to the director of Public Works where he was able to increase his knowledge of mathematics. He went on to develop and patent such devices as the electromagnetic comptometer, a radar device for ships at sea, a sensitized light bulb, and a portable freezer unit for military use. Even with such great abilities in science and mathematics, Hofmann became interested in creative studies, beginning educational art training after the death of his father.

In 1932 he immigrated to the United States, where he resided until the end of his life.

Hofmann's art work is distinguished by a rigorous concern with pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and color relationships.

His completely abstract works date from the 1940s. Hofmann believed that abstract art was a way to get at the important reality. He famously stated that "the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak".

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Hans Hofmann (March 21, 1880 – February 17, 1966) was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.

Hans Hofmann was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. When he was six he moved with his family to Munich. Here his father took a job with the government.

Starting at a young age, Hofmann gravitated towards science and mathematics. At age sixteen, he started work with the Bavarian government as assistant to the director of Public Works where he was able to increase his knowledge of mathematics. He went on to develop and patent such devices as the electromagnetic comptometer, a radar device for ships at sea, a sensitized light bulb, and a portable freezer unit for military use. Even with such great abilities in science and mathematics, Hofmann became interested in creative studies, beginning educational art training after the death of his father.

In 1932 he emigrated to the United States, where he resided until the end of his life.

Hofmann's art work is distinguished by a rigorous concern with pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and color relationships. He was also heavily influenced in his later years by Henri Matisse's ideas about color and form

His completely abstract works date from the 1940s. Hofmann believed that abstract art was a way to get at the important reality. He famously stated that "the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak".

Hofmann was renowned not only as an artist but as a teacher of art, both in his native Germany and later in the U.S. In Munich he founded an art school, where Alf Bayrle, Louise Nevelson, Wolfgang Paalen, Worth Ryder, Bistra Vinarova, and Alfred Jensen, were among his students. The highest praise Hoffman would give a female student (Lee Krasner was one of them) “this painting is so good, you’d never know it was done by a woman!” He closed this school in 1932, the year he immigrated to the U.S.

In America, he initially taught a summer session at the University of California, Berkeley in 1930, after which he returned to Munich. In 1931 he taught another summer session at the University of California, Berkeley and a semester at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles before again returning to Germany. After Hofmann relocated to New York City he began teaching in 1933 at the Art Students League of New York. Leaving the League in the mid-1930s Hofmann opened his own schools in New York and later in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Many famous or notable artists, especially some who could generally be classified as abstract expressionists, studied with Hofmann in New York and Provincetown. These distinguished alumni included: Lee Krasner, Sam Provenzano, Israel Levitan, Helen Frankenthaler, John Hubbard, I. Rice Pereira, Gerome Kamrowski, Michael Loew, Joseph Plaskett, Robert Beauchamp, Fritz Bultman, Cameron Booth, Nicolas Carone, Giorgio Cavallon, Perle Fine, William Ronald, Joan Mitchell, Michael Goldberg, John Grillo, Ray Eames, Larry Rivers, Julius Hatofsky, Jane Frank, Mary Frank, Nell Blaine, Robert De Niro, Sr., Marjorie McKee, Jane Freilicher, Allan Kaprow, Albert Kotin, Red Grooms, Wolf Kahn, Marisol Escobar, Paul Resika, Sy Kattelson, Nicholas Krushenick, Burgoyne Diller, William Littlefield, Mercedes Matter, George McNeil, James Gahagan, Eleanor Hilowitz, Erle Loran, Nancy Frankel, Paul Georges, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Judith Godwin, Lynne Mapp Drexler, Roland Petersen, Ken Jacobs, Anton Weiss, Dorothy Antoinette (Toni) LaSelle, William Freed, Lillian Orlowsky, Sam Hunter, Donald Jarvis, Nela Arias-Misson, and Anne Helioff. Beulah Stevenson, long a curator at the Brooklyn Museum, was also among his pupils.

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Hans Hofmann Artworks
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