Hans Hofmann

Thanks to the chat I had with my tutor last night, he recommended that I have a look more deeply into the art and teachings of Hans Hofmann – the German-American who was perhaps the founding father of Abstract Expressionism. My tutor suggested I get hold of a book called ‘Search for the Real‘, which I intend doing in coming weeks. There are many videos discussing Hofmann on YouTube, I won’t put them here in a bibliography as the list is exhaustive, but I will be plodding through them when I have the time.

Some of the following quotes have been ascribed to him:

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary, so that the necessary may appeal.

Art cannot result from sophisticated, frivolous or superficial effects.

Through a painting we can see the whole world.

These quotes came up in a list from a recent internet search.
Hans Hofmann Above Deep Waters 1959 Oil on canvas

Hans Hofmann (1880–1966) is one of the most important figures of postwar American art. Celebrated for his exuberant, color-filled canvases, and renowned as an influential teacher for generations of artists—first in his native Germany, then in New York and Provincetown—Hofmann played a pivotal role in the development of Abstract Expressionism. – From hanshoffman.org

Hans Hofmann The wind 1942 – 1944
Oil, duco, gouache, india ink on board

I have begun to look at reproductions of Hofmann’s work as found on the official website, there are a great many styles to absorb. Most notably though, I seem to think that he was greatly influenced by Matisse in his use of colour. Strangely enough I only found one reference to him in one of the text books we are asked to look at for this course, I list the reference below.


https://www.hanshofmann.org/ accessed 18/19 02 2020

Foster H. et al (2004) Art since the 1900 Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism. P.404 ‘1947 – the publication of Possibilities in New York marks the coalescence of Abstract Expressionism as a movement.’


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