Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will be featuring nearly seventy artworks throughout Hans Hofmann’s career. The exhibition will provide an eye opening examination to Hofmann’s innovative artistic practice. Among the works included are works on paper from 1930 through the end of his life in 1966. Rarely seen works from private and public collections will be shown from across North America and Europe. The overall theme is to explore Hofmann’s experimental approaches and his expressive application of color, form and space.

Hofmann was a student, artist, teacher/mentor who became an important figure in postwar American art. He played a prominent role in the development of Abstract Expressionism. Between 1900-1930, Hofmann’s studies and decades of painting guided him towards Munich, Paris, then returning to Munich. By 1933 and for the next forty years, he lived in New York and Provincetown. Hofmann’s role from art teacher to established modern artist connected him to art critics, artists, and dealers from the 20th century. Among his connections included Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Betty Parsons, Peggy Guggenheim, Jackson Pollock, and many others.

At age 64, Hofmann had his first solo exhibition at  Art of This Century in New York in 1944. In 1956, Hofmann had closed his school after balancing the demands of teaching and painting. He regained focus on his own paintings after his influence on Abstract Expressionism. As a result, he created a theory known as “push and pull,” which has interdependent relationships between color, space, and form. Until his death in 1966, Hans Hofmann continued with his striking color combinations and that elevated beyond genre and style.

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The exhibition will be held at BAMPFA from February 27 through July 21. The exhibition will also be held at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts September 21, 2019–January 6, 2020.