Hans Hofmann
1880 – 1966

Born in Weissenburg, Germany in 1880, Hans Hofmann would go on to have great impact on the art world both as an artist as well as a teacher.  From an early age, Hofmann excelled in many disciplines.  In addition to his interest in drawing, he was well versed in mathematics, science and music, being a trained multi-instrumentalist.  In fact, his math and science skills were sufficient enough that at age sixteen he was hired as assistant to the director of Public Works of the State of Bavaria.  However, aptitude did not translate to passion.  Rather than pursue a career in the sciences, Hofmann decided to pursue his growing interest in art with formal training and as such, in 1898 he enrolled in Moritz Heymann’s school of art in Munich.

Hofmann would, with the help of Berlin collector Philipp Freudenberg, move to Paris, France in 1904.  He would spend the better part of the next ten years immersed in the Parisian art scene, meeting and absorbing the knowledge of well known artists such as Matisse, Picasso, and Robert and Sonia Delaunay.  Hofmann’s paintings during this time show influence from Post-Impressionism, Fauvism and Cubism, and he began exhibiting his work frequently, including exhibitions in his homeland of Germany.  In 1914, while traveling back to Germany because of a family illness, World War I broke out.  A return to France at that point was impossible, and he was ineligible to serve in the German military because of lung issues, so he decided to pursue a career as an art teacher.  The following year, he opened the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Munich.  Following the end of the war, he began making frequent trips to Paris once again and continued teaching, holding summer classes in various locations throughout Europe during the 1920’s.  Although Hofmann continued to draw often, teaching and traveling left him little time to paint.

In 1930 Hofmann was invited to instruct a summer session at the University of California, Berkeley.  In the summer of 1931 he returned to Berkeley and also taught at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles, California.  This same year, he held his first exhibition in America at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.  In the summer of 1932 Hofmann once again taught at the Chouinard School of Art, however due to the changing political climate back home associated with the rise of Nazi Germany, Hofmann opted to stay in the United States rather than returning.  Settling in New York, he secured a teaching position at the Art Students League.  Through the early 1930’s, Hofmann attempted to keep his school in Munich operating, but by 1933 classes had ended and by 1936 the school had officially closed.  This would not deter Hofmann, who still desired his own school, and by the fall of 1933 he established the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York.

The early 1940’s saw Hofmann gain United States citizenship, and he began to be more and more recognized for his paintings.  He exhibited regularly throughout the decade and established himself as a premier part of the American art scene.  In 1958 he retired from teaching to paint full time and his work began to shed all signs of representational elements, Hofmann focusing instead on color, form and space.  Hans Hofmann died in New York in 1966.

Collections Include:
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Harvard University Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1880 – Born in Weissenburg, Germany
1898 – Studies at Moritz Heymann’s Art School, Munich, Germany
1904 – Moves to Paris
1914 – Returns to Germany
1915 – Opens first art school, Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, Munich, Germany
1930 – Teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, California
1931 – Teaches at the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California
1932 – Teaches at the Art Students League, New York, New York
1933 – Founds the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, New York, New York
1941 – Becomes an American citizen
1958 – Retires from teaching
1966 – Dies in New York, New York

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