'The Gate', 1959-1960, collection: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
March 21, 1880|
|Died||February 17, 1966(aged 85)|
Hans Hofmann (March 21, 1880 – February 17, 1966) 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".
Teaching and writing
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 and Alfred Jensen, were among his students. 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, Israel Levitan, Helen Frankenthaler, 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., Jane Freilicher, Allan Kaprow, Albert Kotin, Red Grooms, Wolf Kahn, Marisol Escobar, Paul Resika, Sy Kattelson, Nicholas Krushenick, Burgoyne Diller, Mercedes Matter, George McNeil, James Gahagan, Erle Loran, Nancy Frankel, Paul Georges, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Judith Godwin, Lynne Mapp Drexler, Roland Petersen, Ken Jacobs, Anton Weiss and Donald Jarvis
In 1958, Hofmann closed his schools in order to devote himself exclusively to his own creative work. Hofmann is a painter and theorist of particular appeal to other artists. American painter Walter Darby Bannard  and British artist John Hoyland  both have been involved in curating retrospectives of Hofmann's work.
Also prominent as a writer on modern art, Hofmann authored an influential book (sometimes referred to and anthologized as an "essay"), Search for the Real, in which he discussed his push/pull spatial theories, his reverence for nature as a source for art, his conviction that art has spiritual value, and his philosophy of art in general. Hofmann is especially noteworthy as a theorist of the medium who argued that "each medium of expression has its own order of being," "color is a plastic means of creating intervals," and "any line placed on the canvas is already the fifth."
From 1947 through 1966 Hans Hofmann exhibited annually at the Samuel M. Kootz Gallery in New York (except for 1948 when the gallery was temporarily closed). Hans Hofmann's recognition increased in the early sixties. In 1963, The Museum of Modern Art gave a full-scale retrospective, organized by William Seitz. The retrospective exhibition circulated various venues through 1965: The Museum of Modern Art, "Hans Hofmann," 11 September-28 November. Catalogue text by William Seitz with excerpts from the artist's writings (64 pages, biography and bibliography). Traveled to Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University (Waltham, Massachusetts, 6 January-2 February 1964), Isaac Delgado Museum of Art (New Orleans, 21 February-15 March 1964), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, New York, 30 March-26 April), University of California at Berkeley (11 May-7 June), Gallery of Modern Art (Washington, D.C., 21 June-21 July), Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (10–26 September), Museo de Bellas Artes (Caracas, 29 November-13 December), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, 29 January-15 March 1965), Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna (Turin, Italy, 31 March-30 April), Werttembergischer Kunstverein (Stuttgart, 13 May-13 June), Kunstverein in Hamburg (Amerika Haus) (2 July-31 July), Stadtisches Kunsthaus (Bielefeld, 12 September-10 October 1965).
and followed a circulating exhibition also organized by The Museum of Modern Art in New York City:
- "Hans Hofmann and his students 1963-1964."
The 58 works were represented by 51 artists. 49 paintings, 6 sculptures, 1 “environment.”
Organized by William Seitz for the Museum of Modern Art 6–27 May, and circulated from 1963 to 1965 to Michigan State University (East Lansing, 1–22 July), Akron Art Institute (Ohio, 3–28 September), Indiana University Museum of Art (Bloomington, 11 October-2 November), Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama, 18 November-9 December), Hunter Gallery of Art (Chattanooga, Tennessee, 2–23 January 1964), The Carillon, Richmond Artist's Association (Richmond, Virginia, 9 February-1 March 1964), Elliott Hall, University of North Carolina (Greensboro, 17 March-7 April), Ohio University (Athens, Ohio 21 April-12 May), University of South Florida (Tampa, 1–22 June), Portland Art Museum (Portland, Maine, 18 September-13 October), State University College (Oswego, New York, 26 October-16 November), Ackland Memorial Art Center, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 5–26 January 1965), Goucher College (Towson, Maryland, 8 February-1 March), Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery at the University of Miami (Coral Gables, Florida, now Lowe Art Museum, 17 March-7 April).
In 1988 the British painter John Hoyland curated an exhibition of Hofmann's work at London's Tate Gallery, 'Hans Hofmann: Late Paintings' (March–May). He had first encountered Hofmann's work during his first visit to New York in 1964, in the company of art critic Clement Greenberg, and been immediately impressed. 
Hans Hofmann and his students: MoMA exhibition 1963-1965
Hans Hofmann's works are in the permanent collections of many major museums in the United States and throughout the world, including the UC Berkeley Art Museum, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Seattle Art Museum, the Dayton Art Institute, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Munich), the Museu d'Art Contemporani, (Barcelona), the Tate Gallery (London), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). In addition to these collections, he also designed a colorful mural located outside the entrance of the High School of Graphic Communication Arts located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City.
When Hans Hofmann died on February 17, 1966, his widow, Renate Hofmann managed his Estate.
After Renate's death in 1992, the New York Daily News published an article titled, "From Caviar to Cat Food," which detailed the "sad and tortuous story" of Hofmann's widow. The article contended that Renate's court appointed guardians "milk[ed] the Estate for more than a decade" and allowed the mentally unstable Renate to live "with her cats and liquor in a garbage-strewn oceanfront home."
Under threat of prosecution, the original executor of the Hofmann Estate, Robert Warshaw, was successful in having the neglectful guardians pay $8.7 million to the Estate for "extraordinary conscious pain and suffering."
Under the will of Renate Hofmann, The Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust was formally created with Robert Warshaw at its head. The mission of the Trust is "to promote the study and understanding of Hans Hofmann's extraordinary life and works" and to accomplish these goals "through exhibitions, publications and educational activities and programs focusing on Hans Hofmann" as well as forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Hofmann's paintings. The U.S. copyright representative for the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust is the Artists Rights Society.
- Abstract expressionism
- Abstract art
- Abstract Imagists
- Western painting
- Art theory (aesthetics)
- Clarence Holbrook Carter (studied with Hofmann in the summer of 1927)
- James Gahagan
- Cynthia Goodman, Hans Hofmann, p.11
- Tate Collection | Hans Hofmann
- Guggenheim Collection - Artist - Hofmann - Biography
- Hans Hofmann: Quotes
- Karl Kasten on Worth Ryder retrieved online October 27, 2008
- Hofmann Chronology, retrieved October 27, 2008
- BAM/PFA - Art Collection
- "Hans Hofmann and his students 1963-1964."‘Hans Hofmann and his students, New York : Museum of Modern Art, 1963-1964"
- Hofmann Estate bibliography, online October 27, 2008
- [Hans Hofmann: The Late Paintings (exh. cat., intro. J. Hoyland; London, Tate, 1988), John Hoyland Tate Biography, online October 27, 2008]
- Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art: Kootz Gallery records, 1923-1966.(http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/kootz-gallery-records-9163. Retrieved 16 Nov. 2012.
- Hans Hofmann, William C. Seitz, Museum of Modern Art (New York): [retrospective exhibition], 1963
- Pace/Tomasi Hofmann Bio retrieved April 2, 2010
- Cynthia Goodman, Hans Hofmann : in conjunction with the exhibition "Hans Hofmann"; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 20, 1990 - September 16, 1990; Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, November 1990 - January 1991; The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia, February 1991 - April 1991 (München : Prestel, 1990.) ISBN 0-87427-070-7 see p. 190 Chronology 1963 "Spring, Miz Hofmann dies. Major exhibition, organized by William Seitz, held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, which also circulates Hans Hofmann and His Students (1963-65)."
- ‘Hans Hofmann and his students, New York : Museum of Modern Art, 1963-1964’’
- Lambirth, Andrew (2009). John Hoyland: Scatter the Devils. Unicorn Press, p. 74.
- You're in Hell's Kitchen: High School of Graphic Communication Arts
- Artnet "News" page. July 19, 2001
- The Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust website: About Us page
- The Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust website: catalogue raisonné page
- Most frequently requested artists list of the Artists Rights Society
- Chipp, Herschel B.. Theories of modern art; a source book by artists and critics (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1968)
- Greenberg, Clement. Hofmann (Paris, Editions Georges Fall, 1961).
- Hofmann, Hans; Sara T Weeks; Bartlett H Hayes; Addison Gallery of American Art; Search for the real, and other essays (Cambridge, Mass., M.I.T. Press, 1967) OCLC 1125858
- Lambirth, Andrew (2009-10-01). John Hoyland: Scatter the Devils. Unicorn Press. ISBN 1-906509-07-7.
- Tapié, Michel. Hans Hofmann : peintures 1962 : 23 avril-18 mai 1963. (Paris: Galerie Anderson-Mayer, 1963.) [exhibition catalogue and commentary] OCLC: 62515192
- Cynthia Goodman, Hans Hofmann : in conjunction with the exhibition "Hans Hofmann"; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 20, 1990 - September 16, 1990; Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, November 1990 - January 1991; The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia, February 1991 - April 1991 (München : Prestel, 1990.) ISBN 0-87427-070-7
- Marika Herskovic, American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s An Illustrated Survey, (New York School Press, 2003.) ISBN 0-9677994-1-4. pp. 166–169
- Marika Herskovic, New York School Abstract Expressionists Artists Choice by Artists, (New York School Press, 2000.) ISBN 0-9677994-0-6. p. 16; p. 37; pp. 182–185
- ART USA NOW Ed. by Lee Nordness;Vol.1, (The Viking Press, Inc., 1963. pp. 18–21
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Hans Hofmann|
- The Estate of Hans Hofmann
- Hans Hofmann Biography: Guggenheim Collection (New York)
- Hans Hofmann Biography: Tate Collection (Tate Gallery, London)
- Hans Hofmann Biography: PBS.org
- Information on Hans Hofmann: Askart.com
- PBS interactive pages on Hans Hofmann's "push/pull" theory
- Hans Hofmann papers at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art
- Hoffmann works from the collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved on 2010-08-13.