Dead at 90, he was the oldest active tattoo artist in the world. Working out of the historically eccentric Hamburg neighborhood of St. Pauli, he has left his mark — literally — on innumerable people for near close to a century.
In his early job as a traveling salesman—and later (1961) as a tattoo artist himself—, Hoffmann sought out tattooed people all over Germany, taking tender shots of them in intimate settings. Now, many years, a breathtaking picture book and full-length documentary later, a selection of about 45 of his photographs are on display at the Gebr. Lehmann Gallery.
As tattooed people in the beginning and middle of the last century were outcast as low-lifes and pariahs (not to mention persecuted as criminals and Bolsheviks during the Third Reich), it is perhaps a feat in itself that Hoffmann was able to gain permission from his subjects to shoot these fascinating portraits at all.