Hans Hofmann (March 21, 1880 – February 17, 1966) was a German-born American abstract expressionist painter.
He was born in Weißenburg, Bavaria on March 21, 1880 the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann. In 1932 he immigrated to the United States, where he resided until the end of his life.
According to the Hofmann biography at the Tate Gallery website, Hofmann's work is distinguished by "a rigorous concern with pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and colour relationships."
The Guggenheim Collection's information on Hofmann states that his "completely abstract works date from the 1940s". Hofmann believed that abstract art was a way to get at what was really important. 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 Louise Nevelson, Wolfgang Paalen and Mercedes Matter were among his students. He closed this school in 1932, the year he immigrated to the U.S. In America, he initially taught at the University of California, Berkeley in 1930 and 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 American artists, especially some who could generally be classified as abstract expressionists, studied with Hofmann in New York and Provincetown. These distinguished alumni include: Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Michael Goldberg, Larry Rivers, Jane Frank, Nell Blaine, Robert de Niro, Sr., Jane Freilicher, Allan Kaprow, Red Grooms, Wolf Kahn, Marisol Escobar, Nicholas Krushenick, Burgoyne Diller, Mercedes Matter, James Gahagan, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Judith Godwin, and Donald Jarvis. In 1958, Hofmann closed his schools in order to devote himself exclusively to his own creative 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, and his philosophy of art in general. Hofmann was an enormously important interpreter of modernism and its relevance to advanced painting.
Hans Hofmann's works are in the permanent collections of many major museums in the United States and throughout the world, including 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 Art Institute of Chicago, the Seattle Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Munich), the Museu d'Art Contemporani, (Barcelona), and the Tate Gallery (London). 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 Hells Kitchen neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City.