A pioneering artist and teacher, Hans Hofmann is one of the most important figures of postwar American art. Celebrated for his exuberant, color-filled canvases, and renowned as an influential teacher for generations of artists-first in his native Germany, then in New York and Provincetown-Hofmann played a pivotal role in the development of Abstract Expressionism. The list of those who studied with Hofmann is long - numbering to mention only a few are Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Georgio Cavallon, Carl Holty, Nicolas Carone, Joan Mitchell, Michael Goldberg, John Grillo, Larry Rivers, Lynn Mapp Drexler, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Robert Goodnough, Wolf Kahn, Stephen Pace, Louise Nevelson, Frank Stella, and Mercedes Matter. Hofmann's works are distinguished by a concern with pictorial structure, spatial illusion, and color relations. His main interest with pictorial phenomena- the illusion of three-dimensional space, composition, and the optical effects of color- best describes his works. He once famously explained:
"It is not the form that dictates color, but the color that brings out the form."
An exceptional example of an early Hofmann landscape, this piece was painted in 1934. That was the same year Hofmann shared a house in Gloucester—nicknamed the "Little Studio"—with Mercedes Matter and her father Arthur B. Carles; it was at their encouragement that Hofmann returned to painting after a brief hiatus, working on an extensive series of landscapes. This same year saw Hofmann travel to Bermuda while his U.S. visa application was being renewed. Landscape no. 130, with its deep blues and yellows, may likely represent a tropical beach setting, or one on the Gloucester shore. What is rarest about this piece are the sketchy figures Hofmann places throughout the composition; his stick-like gestures resemble people, trees, and foliage, and virtually nowhere in his later works does one find figurative elements. Thus Landscape no. 130 is an illuminating artifact from his early career, one that represents the beginning of his trajectory toward the nonobjective. Toward the end of 1934, Hofmann would find himself teaching painting and drawing full time at his newly founded art school in Manhattan, giving lectures on Aesthetics and Modernism that would be advertised in the New York Times.
"…the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak".
Estate of the Artist, 1966-88
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, 1988 (label verso)
William H. Lane Foundation, Leominster, MA (label verso)
Marianne Friedland Gallery, Toronto, 1988 (label verso)
Private Collection, acquired 1988
Zinn Gordon Family Collection, to present
Heath Gallery, Atlanta, GA, 1983
Thomas Babeor Gallery, La Jolla, CA, 8 February—6 April, 1985
Marianne Friedland Gallery, Toronto, 1986
S. Villiger, ed., Hans Hofmann: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Volume II, Burlington, VT, 2014, no. P24, p. 22, ill.