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Hans Hofmann: FURY (Paperback)

Painting after the War

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art

Imprint: Paul Holberton Publishing
Pages: 48
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781911300908
Published: 25th February 2020

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Accompanying an exhibition at BASTIAN, London, this striking publication presents works by the German-born American artist Hans Hofmann (1880–1966), produced at the end of the Second World War and immediately afterwards. Hofmann’s angular abstractions (such as Fury No. 1) personify the insecurities of the period, but this was also the moment that he moved towards the soft ambiguous forms and gesture that would become the hallmark of the Abstract Expressionist movement.  

 

Renowned as both an artist and teacher, Hofmann established his first art school in Munich in 1915. Built on the contemporary ideas regarding colour and form of Cézanne, the Cubists and Kandinsky, his work laid the foundations for his reputation as a forward-thinking artist. After relocating to the United States in 1932, he then opened schools in both New York and Provincetown, immersing himself within America’s growing avantgarde art scene. His teaching had a significant influence on post-War American artists, including Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell – artists who would later lead the Abstract Expressionism movement.

 

The works presented here span from 1942 to 1946. Whilst demonstrating Hofmann’s development towards abstraction, the paintings still reveal an identifiably representational quality which nod to his figurative beginnings; linear paintings such as The Virgin (1946) particularly emphasise this artistic trajectory. Primarily known for his expressive use of bold, often primary colours, the palette used in these paintings consists predominantly of vivid, bright colours and contrasting dark tones, epitomizing the conflicted post-War feeling.

 

Hofmann’s work during the 1940s also saw him garner the support of several key figures in the artistic scene, including the renowned gallerists and dealers Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Parsons, and Samuel M. Kootz. A particularly important moment in his career – aged 64 at the time – was his first solo exhibition in New York in 1944 at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery Art of This Century, considered ‘a breakthrough in painterly versus geometric abstraction that heralded abstract expressionism’ by the influential art critic Clement Greenberg.

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