Bringing together nearly seventy works spanning the entirety of the artist’s career, this exhibition presents a fresh and eye-opening examination of Hans Hofmann’s prolific and innovative artistic practice. Featuring paintings and works on paper from 1930 through the end of Hofmann’s life in 1966, the exhibition includes numerous masterworks from BAMPFA’s distinguished collection as well as many seldom-seen works from both public and private collections across North America and Europe. The Nature of Abstraction provides new insight into Hofmann’s continuously experimental approach to painting and the expressive potential of color, form, and space, reconnecting many of the artist’s most iconic late-career paintings with dozens of remarkably robust, prescient, and understudied works from the 1930s and 1940s.
Hofmann was a multi-generational synthesis of student, artist, and teacher/mentor, whose singular artistic development and achievement manifested as a unique amalgamation of artistic influences and innovations that bridged two world wars and pan-Atlantic avant-gardes. Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction offers new audiences the chance to discover this magnificent body of work for the first time, and a fresh opportunity for those already familiar with the artist to experience new revelations across the full arc of his career.
BAMPFA holds the world’s most extensive museum collection of Hofmann’s paintings. In 1963, the German-born, American artist donated to the University of California nearly fifty paintings and a significant cash contribution toward the completion of BAMPFA’s first museum building, which opened in 1970. The artist made this extraordinary gift in recognition of the University’s decisive role in his immigration to America from Germany, allowing him to escape World War II and “start in America as a teacher and artist.”
On view at BAMPFA from February 27 through July 21, the exhibition will also be presented at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts September 21, 2019–January 6, 2020.
Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog from UC Press featuring new scholarly perspectives from the exhibition’s curator Lucinda Barnes, Ellen G. Landau, and Michael Schreyach; available February 2019 in the BAMPFA Store.