Hans Hofmann: Portrait Of Scientist As An Artist

Several exhibits in the Mark Borghi Fine Art gallery have harkened to the abstract expressionism of German painter Hans Hofmann. In 2016, the Frank Stella retrospective called to mind Hofmann’s arbitration of both European Modernism and American Contemporary art as a teacher in the U.S., fresh from emigrating from Nazi Germany.

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Image source : HansHofmann.org

Hofmann’s imprint among modern artists in New York was also honored in a 2014 retrospective dedicated to the man himself. Hans Hofmann : A Retrospective (2014) bursts with the free coloring of a painter not given to excess in artistic expression. He once issued an aphorism favoring the relation of a painting’s elements to each other —space and color, to be exact— and the elimination of the superfluous to give way to coherent abstract paintings that truly inhabit the spaces they occupy.

Backing such artistic conviction is an awareness of the elegance of science. Before Hofmann was an art teacher in both Munich and New York, he harbored a deeply ingrained Germanic penchant for science and mathematics. At age 16, he was assistant to the Director of Public Works of Bavaria, an experience that inspired his patenting of tools such as a naval radar, a portable freezer, and a sensitized light bulb. One could argue that such inventions with straightforward use bore similarities in principle with his brand of visual abstraction.

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Image source : Borghi.org

Form, color, and space are three elements that are just as important in scientific invention. His focus on these would make Hofmann gravitate naturally to the works of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, whose employment of color and form, respectively would inform the voluminous number of paintings Hofmann would produce throughout his life.

In 2017, the works of Hans Hofmann will once again be on display at Mark Borghi Fine Art, along with the works of Milton Avery. Read the exhibit write-up on this website.

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