Early life and education
Hoffmann is the granddaughter of the industrialist Emanuel (Manno) Hoffmann (1896-1932), daughter of Daria Hoffmann-Razumovsky (1925–2002) and the pharmaceutical magnate and renowned naturalist Luc Hoffmann (1923–2016).
Hoffmann's grandmother, Maja Stehlin (1896–1989), collected Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Fernand Léger, Jean Tinguely and Georges Braque. She created the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation (whose collection forms the main core of the Schaulager) in 1933 to honour her husband Emanuel, who had died when his car was hit by a train when her father, Luc, was still a child.
In the 1980s, Hoffmann studied film at the New School and at New York University in New York City. She then made a documentary film about the fishermen of the Sahara. Today, she is part of the shareholder pool made up of descendants of the founder of the Roche Holding AG, which controls the Swiss health-care company Hoffmann-La Roche.
Hoffmann has two children with the film producer Stanley F. Buchthal, who in some of Hoffmann's films acts as co-executive producer. Buchthal, who comes from Teaneck, New Jersey was a founder of the Bugle Boy company and now runs his own media company, with Liz Garbus, The Dakota Group Limited.
Hoffmann began her art collecting in the 1980s in New York City in the company of Swiss theatre director Werner Düggelin. They encountered and purchased works there by Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Andy Warhol and others.
In 2015, Steidl published a book offering insight into the private contemporary art and design collection of Hoffmann. The collection is distributed in her various dwelling locations at Arles, Zurich, Gstaad, London and Mosquito Island. The book contains photos by photographer François Halard of these locations mixed with Rirkrit Tiravanija's use of the British nursery rhyme "This is the House that Jack Built".
Documentary film executive production
As an executive producer, Hoffmann has realised a number of documentary films, including Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe, The Party's Over, and Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child.
Hoffmann's philanthropy supports contemporary art, film, and environmental programmes around the world. In the 1990s, she worked at Luc Hoffmann's La Tour du Valat, focusing in on the breeding of the Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) and she helped reintroduce them to their native Mongolia in 2004.
She currently is active with her philanthropy at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Rencontres d'Arles in Arles, the Venice Biennale, the Serpentine Gallery in London, and Human Rights Watch in New York. She is president of Kunsthalle Zürich and Vice-President of the Council of the Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung (Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation) in Basel whose art collection was started by her grandparents and is now part of the Museum of Contemporary Art (Basel).
Hoffmann also serves as a board member of Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, New York’s New Museum (where a floor is dedicated to her) and London’s Tate Gallery, heading up its international council and funding its film programme. She is a key backer of the ongoing cultural programme in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Activities in Arles
As part of a major initiative to transform Arles into an art city, Hoffmann founded LUMA Arles. In 2014, she broke ground on LUMA Arles, a cultural complex designed by Frank Gehry for the production of art exhibitions, research, education and archives. It is scheduled for completion in 2019. Meanwhile, architect Annabelle Selldorf is renovating a cluster of 19th-century industrial buildings into spaces to make and show art. One of them is to house photography and be part of the city’s annual international photography festival, Rencontres d'Arles.
- Maja Hoffmann at W magazine
- Chris V. Nicholson (March 25, 2011), Roche’s Bloc of Heirs Lose Majority Vote After One Bolts New York Times.
- Steidl: "This is the House that Jack Built"
- “Association pour le Cheval de Przewalski Archived 2013-03-31 at the Wayback Machine” Official TAKH site. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- The Insider Art-world maverick Maja Hoffmann at W magazine
- Carol Vogel (May 31, 2012), Moon Landing in Arles New York Times.
- Carol Vogel (April 3, 2014), Arts Center in Arles New York Times.