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Hans Hofmann

(German/American, 1880-1966)

The Eye


oil on canvas

153.7 x 92.7 cm (60½ x 36½ in.)

dated and signed ‘52 Hans Hofmann’ (lower right); inscribed ‘Gallery Kootz - The eye - 36 ½ - 60 ½’ (on the verso)

Estate of the artist

Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust (acquired from the above in 1996 until 2007)

Ameringer Yohe Fine Art, New York

Kivisto Niemira Gallery, Chicago

Eric & Debbie Green, USA (acquired in 2007)

J. Yohe, Hans Hofmann, 2002, p. 146 (illustrated)

D. Forman, Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony, vol. 1, 2011, p. 140 (illustrated)

S. Villiger, Ed., Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Volume III: Catalogue Entries P847-PW89 (1952-1965), London, 2014, p. 25, no. P877 (illustrated)

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1952 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, 1952-53

Baltimore, The Baltimore Museum of Art; Washington, D.C., American University, Watkins Gallery, Paintings By Hans Hofmann, 1954

Florida, Naples Museum of Art, Hans Hofmann: A Retrospective, 2003-04, no. 27 (illustrated)

Chicago, Kivisto Niemira Gallery, Hans Hofmann: Exuberant Eye, 2007, p. 41 (illustrated)

California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction, 2019, pl. 37 (illustrated)

“[Hofmann's] paint surfaces breathe as no others do, opening up to animate the air around them.”

C. Greenberg, exh. cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hans Hofmann, 1990, p. 129

The Eye from 1952 is an excellent example of Hans Hofmann’s sensational ability to adopt different forms of abstraction throughout his practice. A series of geometric shapes that together create angled forms highlighted through varied hues, the present work recalls both Cubism and Surrealism. A fundamentally intellectual artist, Hofmann was a professor of Fine Art for the majority of his career, teaching the next generation of American avant-garde artists like Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Louise Nevelson, among many others.

The present work is an early example of Hofmann's characteristic push and pull technique of abstraction, where colours interact creating tension and movement on the canvas. Hofmann, who communicated his philosophy with tremendous spirit and emotion, combined a fastidious study of colour and composition with a primal desire to capture the creative caprices of the soul. Nearing the end of his prolific life, with The Eye he delivered the summation of his vision, drawing together his extraordinary talent into a canvas of alluring vitality.


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