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Hans Hofmann

Hans Hofmann

(1880 - 1966)
Born: Weissenburg, Germany
Style: Abstract Expressionism
Famous Works:
  • Landscape (1941)
  • Fairy Tale (1944)
  • The Third Hand (1947)
Born and raised in Bavaria, Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann was an important artist and teacher for a number of American artists. As a boy, Hofmann expressed interest in science and mathematics, interests that would eventually become central to his work as an artist. In 1898, after the death of his father, Hofmann began his serious pursuit of a career in art, first studying in Munich and then moving to Paris. In turn of the century Paris, Hofmann found friendship and inspiration among members of the Modernist movement, eventually identifying with Robert Delaunay's Orphism movement. This organic cubist style placed importance on color over form, a concept that was intrisically aligned with Hofmann's calculated, scientific approach. Through his work in Orphism, Hofmann began to develop the composition and color theories that would come to define his art and his teachings. In 1915, Hofmann began his brilliant teaching career when he founded his first art school in Munich, the city where he had studied. The artist immigrated to the United States in 1932, and quickly set up the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York. It is here that his influence would have the greatest impact, as he disseminated an approach to art making that had little association with politics or social consciousness. His focus was on aesthetics and the handling of material to develop intuitive expression. This approach was influenced by Cézanne's flat pictorial space, prominent brushwork and organized color. He believed that the picture surface possessed a life and depth not dependent on Renaissance ideas of single point perspective, but instead upon his famous words, "push and pull". The artist stopped teaching in 1958 to dedicate himself solely to his own work, which he continued until his death in 1966, at the age of eighty-six.
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