Hans Hofmann: Selections from the Berkeley Art Museum Collection

September 20, 2003 - January 3, 2004

Hans Hofmann: Selections from the Berkeley Art Museum Collection features tweny-five masterworks from the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, which has the world's largest public collection of paintings by the legendary teacher and artist. A special highlight of the exhibition is a new documentary film narrated by Robert DeNiro, whose parents studied with the painter in the 1940s.

Born near Munich, Hofmann traveled to Paris in 1904, rubbing shoulders with Picasso and Matisse, among others. After coming to the United States in the 1930s, Hofmann taught at the University California, Berkeley for two years and then opened art schools in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts. For twenty-five years he revealed the power and beauty of abstract art to America's most promising artists, including Abstract-Expressionist painters Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchel and sculptor Louise Nevelson.

In his teachings and his own work, Hofmann focused on color theory and his "push-pull" principle in which he believed that color, light, shape, and texture could create the experience of depth within the two dimensional surface of a painting. Using eye-popping colors, bold forms, and vigorous brushstrokes, he overlapped shapes and juxtaposed warm colors (which appear to advance spatially) with cool colors (which seems to recede) in order to create the illusion that his compositions are pulsating or "breathing."

Hans Hofmann: Selections from the Berkeley Art Museum Collection focuses on work Hofmann made after 1958 when he closed his school to concentrate entirely on his own painting. During this time, Hofmann began incorporating rectangular shapes in order to build the push-pull sensation and to create subtle, directional patterning. The result was a startling and thrilling body of work that astonished artists and art critics.

This exhibition was organized by the University of Califronia, Berkeley Art Museum and made possible by the generous support from the Akron Community Foundation and the Renate, Hans, and Maria Hofmann Trust.