Hans Hofmann: Painter and Teacher

Hans Hofmann Self Portrait with Brushes

When I was undergraduate studying art, required reading was Chipp’s Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics (California Studies in the History of Art). It is a collection of original writings by artists themselves – letters, essays, manifestos etc. One of the artists that is included in this text is the German born artist who later moved to the United States, Hans Hofmann. I was very interested in what he had to say as he was, in addition to being a great artist, he was considered a great teacher.

In his teachings, he didn’t command people to copy him but he helped each person with their own style. I was reminded of him recently when I read about 2 other artists who had studied with him. Hofmann taught art for over four decades; some of his students include Helen Frankenthaler, Red Grooms, Alfred Jensen, Wolf Kahn, Lee Krasner, Louise Nevelson and Frank Stella and many others.


Artists I Like: Hans Hofmann an Abstract Expressionist


He was considered to be an abstract expressionist. Here is an excerpt about his painting from his biography from the hanshofmann.org site –

As an artist Hofmann tirelessly explored pictorial structure, spatial tensions and color relationships. In his earliest portraits done just years into the twentieth century, his interior scenes of the 1940s and his signature canvases of the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Hofmann brought to his paintings what art historian Karen Wilkin has described as a “range from loose accumulations of brushy strokes…to crisply tailored arrangements of rectangles…but that somehow seems less significant than their uniform intensity, their common pounding energy and their consistent physicality.” (source: http://www.hanshofmann.org/biography)

Push and Pull

The term “push and pull” was coined by Hans Hoffman –

push and pull – An optical sensation colors cause: the impression that each hue appears to recede or advance to a different depth from the eye. This term was coined and the concept promoted by painter Hans Hofmann (born in Bavaria, active in the USA, 1880-1966), often associated with Abstract Expressionism. His late paintings are characterised by the juxtaposition of strongly colored rectangles, which he said displayed this push and pull effect. The paintings were often worked out by pinning rectangles of colored paper to the canvas. (source:artlex.com)

Visit his gallery CLICK HERE

He is featured in the book: New York School Abstract Expressionists: Artists Choice by Artists: A Complete Documentation of the New York Painting and Sculpture Annuals; 1951-1957

Here are 2 videos that will offer some insight into the man that was Hans Hofmann –

Don’t forget to comment below and let me know what you think of Hans Hofmann or if you have other artists you’d like to see added to the series ‘Artist I Like.’