The Robert Richenburg papers, circa 1910s-2008, measure 5.3 linear feet and 4.32 GB. Biographical material, correspondence, subject files, writings, sound and video recordings, printed material, and photographs document the professional career and personal life of the educator and New York School painter and sculptor best known for his Abstract Expressionist paintings.
Scope and Content Note:
The Robert Richenburg papers, circa 1910s-2008, measure 5.3 linear feet and 4.32 GB. Biographical material, correspondence, subject files, writings, audio/visual recordings, printed material, and photographs document the professional career and personal life of the educator and New York School painter and sculptor best known for his Abstract Expressionist paintings.
Biographical material includes educational records from high school through his studies at the Ozenfant School of Fine Arts using G.I. benefits. Birth, marriage,and death certificates are also found, along with Richenburg family memorabilia. There is a digital video recording of Robert Richenburg's memorial service.
Correspondence consists mostly of family letters, including some illustrated letters and many handmade cards featuring original artwork. Condolence letters addressed to Marggy Kerr are from friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances.
Subject files contain various combinations of correspondence, printed material, photographs, writings and notes relating to Richenburg's professional career and personal life. They document exhibitions, gallery representation, gifts of art work to museums and individuals, memberships, teaching activities, former students, friendships, and other aspects of his life. Files of significant interest are: The Club, Tina Dicky and Madeline Amgott, Former Students (particularly Raphael Montanez Ortiz), Bonnie L. Grad and Lynne Moulton, Hans Hofmann, Ibram Lassaw, Philip Pavia, Pratt Institute, Hilla Rebay and the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, Tibor De Nagy Gallery, and Veterans Administration.
Writings by Richenburg consist of notes, reviews, artist's statements, and the text of a speech. Also included are quotations compiled over the years by Marggy Kerr of Richenburg's comments on art and life. Among the writings by others are student papers, reviews, and poems.
Sound and visual recordings include interviews with Robert Richenburg, often conducted as research for exhibitions. Videocassettes document events such as panel discussions, and artist gatherings; a few were produced in conjunction with museum exhibitions. Also found are videotapes by video artist Raphael Montanez Ortiz, Richenburg's friend and former student.
Printed material includes items that are specifically about Robert Richenburg as well as items that incidentally mention him. The majority consist of exhibition catalogs and announcements.
Photographs show art work by Richenburg, exhibition openings and other events, and a variety of people and places. Among the events recorded is the "Artists Roundtable on Art of the '50s." Moderated by Dore Ashton, the panel included Herman Cherry, Sidney Geist, Ibram Lassaw, Mercedes Matter, and David Slivka. There are photographs of Richenburg's boyhood home in Roslindale, MA, and his house in Ithaca, NY. He is pictured with others including family members, dealers, and curators. Of particular interest are photographs of Richenburg in Provincetown, MA, 1952-1953, with friends, including: Giorgio Cavallon, Franz Kline, Ibram and Ernestine Lassaw, and Philip and Marcia Pavia. World War II photographs consist of images of art work (not by Richenburg), Richenburg and other individuals taken in France and England; a number include views of Shrivenham American University.
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, circa 1910s-2006 (Box 1; 0.1 linear ft., ER01; 1.66 GB)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1940-2007 (Box 1; 0.4 linear ft.)
Series 3: Subject Files, 1942-2008 (Boxes 1-3, OV 7; 2.25 linear ft.)
Series 4: Writings, circa 1950-2006 (Box 3; 0.1 linear ft.)
Series 5: Sound and Video Recordings, 1996-2006 (Boxes 3-4; 0.75 linear ft., ER02; 2.66 GB)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1947-2008 (Boxes 4-5; 1.25 linear ft.)
Series 7: Photographs, circa 1923-2006 (Boxes 5-6; 0.45 linear ft.)
Robert Bartlett Richenburg (1917-2006) was a painter and educator in New York City, Ithaca, New York, and East Hampton, New York.
At age 13, Bob Richenburg's artistic talent earned him a place in a daily class for Boston Public School students at the Museum of Fine Arts. Most classes focused on copying; of far greater benefit to the young art student was the opportunity to wander through the museum and look at art nearly every day of his high school career.
Richenburg's father was an architect who also ran a stained glass lampshade business; neither endeavor was profitable, so the family endured very hard times during the Depression. To help support the family, after school and on weekends, Bob delivered ice and coal with an older brother, a job he continued while attending night school courses in liberal arts at Boston University. He studied at George Washington University in Washington, DC, 1937-1939, often working as many as four part-time jobs to cover tuition and living expenses; during summers and school vacations, he returned to Boston to work with his brother. Due to his difficult financial situation, Richenburg's college career ended before he earned a degree.
After learning that the Corcoran School of Art charged no tuition, Richenburg returned to Washington in 1940 to study painting and sculpture. Although uninformed about the art world, he realized that New York was a better place for an aspiring artist. In 1941, he began studying with George Grosz and Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League. On his own, he studied materials and techniques and copied paintings at the Metropolitan Museum Art.
With war looming and the near certainty of being drafted, Robert Richenburg and Libby Chic Peltyn (always called Chic) married in November 1942; two weeks later, he entered the army. Richenburg spent three years in England and France as a combat engineer, transporting explosives and instructing troops in the demolition of mines and booby traps. In England, he managed a photo lab and taught drawing in the fine arts section of Shrivenham American University, a school run by the U. S. Army.
Once discharged, Richenburg returned to New York and took advantage of the G.I. Bill to continue studying painting (and for the subsistence allowance that provided modest support for his family - son Ronald was born in 1947). Richenburg studied at the Ozenfant School, 1947-1949, where he developed a life-long friendship with fellow student Ibram Lassaw.
He continued his art education with Hans Hofmann in New York and Provincetown, 1949-1951. During this period, Richenburg taught drawing, painting, and art history classes sponsored by the Extension Division of City College of New York and held at venues such as Brooklyn's Central YMCA, and branches of the New York Public Library. Richenburg quickly discovered that he liked teaching and enjoyed the students.
In 1951, Richenburg joined the Pratt Institute faculty and taught studio courses at night; soon, he was teaching full time during the day. Richenburg began to achieve recognition as the youngest of the Abstract Expressionists and by the early 1960s his career was well established. Tibor De Nagy Gallery in New York and Dwan Gallery in California represented Richenburg, and a number of paintings were sold to museums and private collectors. As Richenburg experimented with new ideas and materials, his work began changing. He was a popular instructor at Pratt with several promising students who also began experimenting. In 1964, when the unorthodox work of one student in particular caught the attention of Pratt administrators, Richenburg was asked to change his approach to teaching. This roused student protests, and press coverage focused on the specific situation and academic freedom in general. He chose to resign rather than alter his teaching philosophy.
Richenburg secured a position at Cornell University. The confluence of his absence from New York City and the ascendance of Pop Art were damaging, and his career was derailed when De Nagy and Dwan dropped him from their rosters a few years later. After it was clear that he would not secure tenure at Cornell, Richenburg returned to New York in 1967 and began teaching at Hunter College. Daily life in New York was harder than he remembered and, for him, the City had lost its allure.
When offered the chairmanship of the Ithaca College art department, the Richenburgs were delighted to return to tranquil Ithaca, New York. Chic died in 1977, and Bob remained at Ithaca College until retiring in 1983. In addition full-time teaching and handling administrative activities as department chairman, Richenburg made time to work in his studio practically every day. He created a large body of work in a wide variety of media and styles, moving on to new ideas and experiments after exhausting his possibilities or interest.
Beginning in 1949 with a loan exhibition organized by The Museum of Non-Objective Art, Richenburg participated in a wide range of group shows. His first solo exhibition was held in 1953 at the Hendler Gallery, Philadelphia. Over the years, he enjoyed other solo exhibitions at venues such as: David Findlay Jr. Fine Art, Dwan Gallery, Hansa Gallery, Ithaca College Museum of Art, McCormick Gallery, Rose Art Museum (Brandeis University), Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Sidney Mishkin Gallery (Baruch College), and Tibor De Nagy Gallery. In the 1960s and 1970s, Richenburg's work was seldom shown, but from the mid-1980s onward there has been renewed interest.
Richenburg's work is represented in the permanent collections of many museums including Hirshhorn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition, his work was acquired by many highly regarded private collectors including Larry Aldrich, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., Joseph H. Hirshhorn, J. Patrick Lannon, and James A. Michener.
Robert Richenburg and Margaret (Marggy) Kerr, a painter and sculptor living in Ithaca, were married in 1980. Ms. Kerr is known for "brick rugs" made from cut bricks forming designs for site specific sculpture and garden walks. Richenburg became close to his stepfamily of three children, Marggy's grandchildren and her mother. After he retired from Ithaca College, Bob and Marggy moved to Springs in East Hampton, New York.
Although Richenburg suffered from Parkinson's disease during the last six years of his life, he continued to work in his home studio until physically unable to produce art. He died on October 10, 2006.
An oral history interview of Robert Richenburg was conducted by Dorothy Seckler for the Archives of American Art, circa 1968.
Donated in 2008 by Margaret Kerr, widow of Robert Richenburg, on behalf of herself and his son Ronald Richenburg.
Use of original material requires an appointment. Use of audiovisual material with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Educators -- New York (State) -- East Hampton Search this
The papers of painter, teacher, and writer Hans Hofmann measure 29.92 linear feet and 5.00 GB and date from circa 1904 to 2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1945 to 2000. The majority of the papers were created after 1932 and document Hofmann's life and professional career after settling in the United States. Among his papers are personal and professional correspondence; records of his schools in Munich, New York City, and Provincetown, Mass.; writings and notes; financial records; photographs; printed matter; estate records; and a small number of personal papers of his second wife, Renate Schmitz Hofmann. Hofmann's personal papers are augmented by a large selection of printed matter, including exhibition catalogs, articles, news clippings, and monographs about Hofmann and modern art, as well as documentary projects including Tina Dickey's compilation of oral histories and records of Hofmann's students, and research materials, sound and video recordings, digital material, and motion picture film created and gathered by Madeline Amgott during the production of two video documentaries about Hans Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Hofmann's Library was acquired with his papers; inscribed/annotated volumes have been retained with the collection.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of painter, teacher, and writer Hans Hofmann measure 29.92 linear feet and 5.00 GB and date from circa 1904 to 2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1945 to 2000. The majority of the papers were created after 1932 and document Hofmann's life and professional career after settling in the United States. Among his papers are personal and professional correspondence; records of his schools in Munich, New York City, and Provincetown, Mass.; writings and notes; photographs; address and appointment books; artifacts; artwork; biographical information; interview transcripts; sales and estate records; and a small number of personal papers of his second wife, Renate Schmitz Hofmann. Hofmann's personal papers are augmented by a large selection of printed matter, including exhibition catalogs, articles, news clippings, and monographs about Hofmann and modern art, as well as documentary projects including Tina Dickey's compilation of oral histories and records of Hofmann's students, and research materials, sound and video recordings, digital materials, and motion picture film created and gathered by Madeline Amgott during the production of two video documentaries about Hans Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Hofmann's Library was acquired with his papers; inscribed/annotated volumes have been retained with the collection.
Correspondence, 1914-1966 (Series 1), consists mainly of incoming letters about professional matters and personal business. A large portion of the letters are from museum directors and curators regarding the exhibition, loan, sale or donation of Hofmann's work; publishers, editors, and others preparing catalogs or biographical works; and galleries that showed Hofmann's paintings or represented him. Also among the correspondents are students and former students, art historians, art critics, fans, and friends. Family correspondents are a sister-in-law, nieces, and a nephew in Germany. Additional correspondence concerning administrative matters, and requests for catalogs, transcripts and recommendations are among the Records of the School of Fine Arts (Series 2). Financial Records (Series 4) contain a small amount of correspondence regarding banking, taxes, and Social Security. Estate Records (Series 9) include correspondence relating to taxes, the sale of Hofmann's Provincetown house, and various legal documents. Correspondence among the Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann (Series 10) include condolence letters, and a small number of personal letters and business correspondence regarding Hofmann's estate.
School of Fine Arts Records, 1915-1965 (Series 2), include a very small number of items relating to the Hans Hofmann Schule fur Bildende Kunst that operated in Munich from 1915 until 1933. These are printed prospectuses, a financial record, 1925; and "Italian Schools of Painting: The Renaissance in Italy," a printed chart, probably used as a teaching aid. Other items relating to the Munich school are photographs (Series 6) of Hans Hofmann with students in the 1920s, including some taken during the summer course in Capri, circa 1925. Travel photographs, 1920s, may have been taken while teaching summer courses in Europe, and an unidentified photograph, undated, of an exhibition installation in Germany may be school-related.
The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts was established in New York in 1933, and his summer school in Provincetown, Mass., opened in 1934; both operated continually until Hofmann closed them in 1958 in order to paint full-time. Records of these schools are more substantial, but still quite incomplete. They consist of administrative files containing accreditation records, correspondence, model bookings, inquiries from prospective students, and printed matter about the schools. Financial records are comprised of expense statements and an analysis of income from the 1956 summer session. Student records consist of student ledgers, registration and payment records, and requests for transcripts and recommendations. Miscellaneous items are student artwork and notes. Records postdating the schools' closing are inquiries from prospective students and requests from former students for transcripts or recommendations. Additional letters from former students about matters other than transcripts and recommendations are filed with Correspondence (Series 1).
Writings, circa 1904-1965 (Series 3), are published and unpublished manuscripts by Hans Hofmann and other authors. Hoffman wrote extensively about his philosophy of painting, about himself as a teacher and an artist, and about modern art. Included are manuscripts, drafts, and revisions of Hofmann's book, Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in Gestaltung, circa 1904-[1952?], Search for the Real in the Visual Arts and Other Essays, published in 1948, and The Painter and His Problems-A Manual Dedicated to Painting, 1963. Articles and Essays include the constituent essays of Search for the Real in the Visual Arts and Other Essays and others on theoretical aspects of painting, Alfred Maurer, and Charles W. Hawthorne. Talks and Lectures consist of notes, outlines, and some complete texts of Hofmann's speeches. Miscellaneous Writings are shorter, informative pieces, mostly unpublished. Representative titles include: "I Am Often Asked to Explain My Work," 1946, and "About the Relation of Students and Teachers," undated. Poems by Hofmann include some written to Miz Hofmann. Notes and Lists include notes on specific works of art and lists of paintings for exhibitions, framing, and shipping.
Financial Records, 1927-1966 (Series 4), consist mainly of banking records and tax returns with supporting documentation. There are also statements of assets and liabilities, and a few subject files concerning financial matters such as "House Expenses," "Social Security," and "University of California-Financial Standing With." Additional tax records are among the documents of the Estate of Hans Hofmann (Series 9), and expenses are recorded in his 1932 appointment book (Series 5).
Miscellaneous Records, 1906-1966 (Series 5) include Addresses and Appointment Books. Artifacts are a leather wallet and 6 photogravure blocks. Artwork consists of 4 sketches and block prints of 3 red shapes, one the numeral 5. Included with Biographical Information are birth and marriage certificates, immigration and naturalization papers, wills, Hofmann and Wolfegg family documents, biographical notes and chronologies, and a bibliography of writings on and by Hofmann. Interview Transcripts are of 3 interviews with Hofmann conducted for various purposes. Sales Records include lists of paintings sold through galleries and privately, and a list of prices computed by canvas size.
Photographs, circa 1925-1966 (Series 6) are of People, Events, Places, Works of Art, and Miscellaneous Subjects; also, Oversize Photographs. People include views of Hofmann alone and with Miz, students, and others; Miz Hofmann; Renate Schmitz Hofmann; and the Hofmann family. Also, there are pictures of identified and unidentified individuals and groups. Events recorded are "Forum 49" at Gallery 200, exhibition installations, openings, and ceremonies for honorary degrees awarded Hofmann. Photographs of places include Miz Hofmann's Munich apartment; interior and exterior views of Hofmann's Provincetown house; exterior views of the Provincetown school; Hofmann's New York studio; and unidentified houses and landscapes. Travel pictures are of Italy, Mexico, California [?], and unidentified locations. Photographs of works of art by Hofmann are mainly 35-mm color slides of works completed from 1935 to 1965. There are also photographs of works by other artists and Hofmann students. Teaching materials are photographs of Old Masters paintings, drawings, and Classical sculpture, some marked to indicate line, form, or proportion. Miscellaneous subjects are a dog, cat, and doll; also, a cover design for Search for the Real in the Visual Arts. The oversize photographs include portraits of Hans Hofmann and Miz, and works of art by Hofmann students.
Printed Matter, 1930-1978 (Series 7), contains articles, essays and a letter to the editor by Hans Hofmann; the remaining material by other authors is categorized by type. Exhibition Catalogs and Related Items (mainly announcements and invitations), 1931-1978, undated, are from group and solo shows that featured the work of Hans Hofmann; also, catalogs and announcements of other artists' exhibitions collected by Hofmann. Newspaper clippings and articles from periodicals include reviews, feature articles, articles with brief references to Hofmann or reproductions of his work, and obituaries. Others are on art-related topics and miscellaneous subjects. Miscellaneous printed matter includes a variety of items such as brochures about art courses (not the Hofmann school), reproductions of works by Hofmann and other artists, book prospectuses, and statements. Art Museum: A Center for Cultural Study, a prospectus showing models and drawings of the proposed University Art Museum, Berkeley, notes the location of its Maria and Hans Hofmann Wing. A Scrapbook, 1944-1962, contains clippings, exhibition reviews, and some catalogs, checklists, and invitations. Nineteen books that mention or are about Hofmann are a part of this series.
Hans Hofmann's Library (Series 8) of art books and general literature was acquired with his papers. Inscribed and annotated volumes have been retained. Books about or mentioning Hofmann are among Printed Matter (Series 7). All other books and periodicals (376 items) were transferred to the Library of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum.
Estate of Hans Hofmann, 1945-1974 (Series 9), consists of records of Hofmann's attorney and co-executor, Robert Warshaw, and includes correspondence and legal documents concerning taxes, the Provincetown house, and miscellaneous business matters.
Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann, 1962-1967 (Series 10), include notes, correspondence, condolence letters and records regarding Hans Hofmann's funeral, and information about the theft of Hofmann paintings from his Provincetown house in 1966.
Hans Hofmann Documentary Projects, 1944-2011 (Series 11) includes research materials compiled by Tina Dickey concerning Hofmann's students, correspondence as well as primary source and supplementary research materials produced and gathered by Madeline Amgott for two video documentaries on Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Original and edited audiovisual recordings are included in the series, as well as primary source material gathered from a variety of sources. Some material is in digital format.
The Hans Hofmann papers are arranged into 11 series. Correspondence (Series 1), Financial Records (Series 4), and Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann (Series 10) are arranged alphabetically by folder title. Unless noted otherwise, material within each folder is arranged chronologically.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1914-1966 (3 linear feet; Box 1-3)
Series 2: School of Fine Arts records, 1915-1965 (2 linear feet; Box 4-5)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1904-1965 (2.5 linear feet; Box 6-8)
Series 4: Financial records, 1927-1966 (0.5 linear feet; Box 8)
Series 5: Miscellaneous records, 1906-1966 (0.8 linear feet; Box 9)
Series 6: Photographic materials, circa 1925-1965 (1.5 linear feet; Box 9-10, Box 19, MGP 1)
Series 7: Printed material, 1928-1978 (5.2 linear feet; Box 11-15, Box 20)
Series 8: Hans Hofmann Library (2.5 linear feet; Box 16-18, Box 20)
Series 9: Estate of Hans Hofmann, 1945-1974 (0.5 linear feet; Box 18)
Series 10: Papers of Renate Schmitz Hofmann, 1962-1967 (0.1 linear feet; Box 18)
Series 11: Hans Hofmann Documentary Projects, 1944-2011 (12.3 linear feet; Box 19, 21-31, FC 32-44, 5.00 GB; ER01-ER04)
German-born Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), a leading figure of the 20th century art world, was the first painter to be called an Abstract Expressionist. An esteemed and influential teacher, Hofmann operated his own school in Munich and later in New York City and Provincetown, Mass. He wrote extensively on theoretical aspects of modern art, and about himself as an artist and teacher, and was in demand as a speaker. Hofmann alternated among a variety of styles and techniques throughout his career. Many paintings combine Fauve-inspired color and Cubist structure; influenced by the Surrealist's automatism, much of Hofmann's abstract work often uses poured and spattered paint.
Johann (Hans) Georg Albert Hofmann showed musical and artistic talent as a boy and excelled in the study of science and mathematics. Technical knowledge acquired through working as assistant to the Director of Public Works of the State of Bavaria enabled him, while still a teenager, to invent several mechanical devices. Hofmann attended Moritz Heymann's Munich art school in 1898. Willi Schwarz, one of his teachers during this period, introduced him to Impressionism, and by visiting galleries Hofmann's awareness of contemporary art movements expanded. Schwarz also introduced him to art collector Phillip Freudenberg whose patronage made a move to Paris possible.
Hofmann arrived in Paris in 1904 and began attending evening sketch classes at the Académie Colarossi and the Académie de la Chaumière where Matisse was among his fellow students. During his 10 years in Paris, Hofmann established a close friendship with Robert Delaunay and met Braque, Arthur B. Carles, Léger, Picasso, and Leo Stein. He painted Cubist landscapes, still lifes, and figure studies, and participated in group shows with Neue Sezessions, Berlin, 1908 and 1909. In 1910, the Paul Cassierer Gallery, Berlin, presented Hofmann's first solo exhibition.
When World War I broke out, Hofmann was visiting Germany. War conditions prevented his return to Paris and terminated Freudenberg's financial assistance. Disqualified for military service due to a lung condition, Hofmann decided to earn his living by teaching. The Hans Hofmann Schule für Bildende Kunst in Munich opened in 1915 and was a success from its earliest days. Beginning in 1917, summer courses were offered in locations such as Italy, France, Bavaria, and Dalmatia. After the war, Hofmann's school began to attract American students including Carl Holty, Alfred Jensen, Louise Nevelson, Worth Ryder, Vaclav Vytlacil, and Glenn Wessels.
Hofmann first came to the United States in 1930, when former student Worth Ryder, art department chairman at the University of California, Berkeley, invited him to teach the summer session at Berkeley. He returned to California the following year, teaching a semester at the Chouinard School of Art, Los Angeles, followed by another summer session at Berkeley. Hofmann moved to New York in 1932 because of the political situation at home and at the urging of his wife, who was to remain in Germany until 1939.
While Hofmann served as guest instructor at the Thurn School of Art, Gloucester, Mass., during the summers of 1932 and 1933, his Munich school offered summer sessions taught by Edmund Daniel Kinzinger. Its 1933 prospectus noted, "Mr. Hofmann will probably conduct the summer school personally..." But he did not return, and the school closed in the fall of 1933.
Hofmann taught at Art Students League in the fall of 1932. The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts opened in New York City in the autumn of 1933, operating in several locations before moving to permanent quarters at 52 West 8th Street in 1938. He established the summer school at Provincetown, Mass. in 1934. Firsthand knowledge of Picasso, Matisse, and european modern art trends, along with his theories and the freedom he offered students, made Hofmann a widely admired, influential, and important teacher. Among his students were: Burgoyne Diller, Ray Eames, Helen Frankenthaler, Red Grooms, Harry Holtzman, Allen Kaprow, Lillian Kiesler, Lee Krasner, George McNeil, Irene Rice Pereira, and Richard Stankiewicz. In addition, art critic Clement Greenberg was significantly influenced by Hofmann's lectures on artistic theory. Both schools flourished until Hofmann decided to close them in 1958; after teaching for 43 consecutive years, he wanted to paint full-time.
In his writings, Hofmann expanded on theories regarding form, color, and space developed during his years in Paris. His most important text, Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in Gestaltung, based on notes begun in Paris circa 1904, was written during his second summer at Berkeley, 1931. That same year, Glenn Wessels translated it into English as Creation in Form and Color. Although Hofmann produced additional notes and revisions over the next two decades, the manuscript remains unpublished. Hofmann wrote essays and articles, many of which were published. A collection of Hofmann's writings, Search for the Real and Other Essays, was published in conjunction with his 1948 retrospective exhibition at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Mass., the first solo show of an Abstract Expressionist to be organized by a museum. Other published and unpublished articles, essays, and shorter writings that elucidate his theoretical concerns include: "The Mystification of the Two- and Three-Dimensional in the Visual Arts," 1946; "Pictorial Function of Colours," 1950; "Space Pictorially Realized Through the Intrinsic Faculty of the Colours to Express Volume," 1951; "The Color Problem in Pure painting-Its Creative Origin," 1955; "The Creative Process-Its Physical and Metaphysical Performing," 1956; "Nature as Experience and Its Pictorial Realization," undated; and "Pure Colour Space," undated.
Hofmann's lectures to his own students, and talks presented to art groups and the general public addressed many of the same themes. He gave his first American lecture in 1930 at the University of Minnesota, and presented talks to a variety of groups while in California. Hofmann was a frequent speaker at the Provincetown Art Association, and participated in the "Forum 49" series he helped to organize at Gallery 200 in Provincetown, 1949.
In the last decade of his life, Hofmann produced a large number of paintings. He was represented in the XXX Venice Biennale, 1960, and major retrospective exhibitions were organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1957, and the Museum of Modern Art, 1963. In 1963, he made a gift of 45 paintings to the University of California, Berkeley, and funded construction of a wing to house them in the soon-to-be-built University Art Museum. Hans Hofmann died in New York City on Feb. 17, 1966.
1880 -- Hans Hofmann is born in Weissenburg, Bavaria, on 21 March, the son of Theodor and Franziska Hofmann.
1886 -- The family moves to Munich, where Theodor becomes a government official. Hans studies mathematics, science, and music at the gymnasium. He plays the violin, piano and organ and begins to draw.
1896 -- With his father's help, finds a position as assistant to the director of public works of the State of Bavaria. Develops his technical knowledge of mathematics, resulting in several scientific inventions, including an electromagnetic comptometer.
1898 -- Studies with Willi Schwarz at Moritz Heymann's art school in Munich, where he is introduced to Impressionism.
1900 -- Meets Maria (Miz) Wolfegg, his future wife.
1903 -- Through Willi Schwarz, he meets the nephew of a Berlin collector, Philipp Freudenberg, who becomes his patron from 1904-1914 and enables him to live in Paris.
1904 -- Frequents the Café du Dome, a haunt of artists and writers, with Jules Pascin, a friend from Moritz Heymann's school. Miz joins him in Paris. Attends evening sketch class at the Académie de la Grand Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi. Meets Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Henri Matisse.
1908 -- Exhibits with the Neue Sezession in Berlin and again in 1909. Miz designs scarves with Sonia Delaunay (then Sonia Uhde).
1910 -- First one-person exhibition held at Paul Cassirer Gallery, Berlin. Meets Robert Delaunay, with whom he designs patterns for Sonia Delaunay's Cubist fashions. During their close friendship, both men develop as colorists.
1914 -- Hans and Miz leave Paris for Corsica so that Hans can regain his health during a bout of what turned out to be tuberculosis. Called to Germany by the illness of his sister Rosa, they are caught on the Tegernsee by the outbreak of World War I.
1915 -- Disqualified for the army due to the after effects of his lung condition, and with the assistance of Freudenberg terminated by the war, Hofmann decides to earn a living teaching. In the spring, he opens the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts at 40 Georgenstrasse, Munich.
1918-29 -- After the war his school becomes known abroad and attracts foreign students such as Worth Ryder, Glenn Wessels, Louise Nevelson, Vaclav Vytlacil, Carl Holty, Alfred Jensen, and Ludwig Sander. Holds summer session at Tegernsee, Bavaria (1922), Ragusa (1924), Capri (1925-1927), St. Tropez (1928-1929). Makes frequent trips to Paris. Has little time to paint but draws continually.
1924 -- Marries Miz Wolfegg on 5 June.
1929 -- A series of his drawings is reproduced by a photographic process known as Lichtdrucke.
1930 -- At the invitation of Worth Ryder, teaches in a summer session at the University of California, Berkeley, where Ryder is chairman of the Department of Art. Returns to Munich for the winter.
1931 -- In the spring, teaches at the Chouinard School of Art, Los Angeles, and again at Berkeley in the summer. Wessels helps him with the first translation of his book Form und Farbe in der Gestaltung, begun in 1904. Exhibits a series of drawings at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, his first show in the United States.
1932 -- Returns to the Chouinard School of Art in the summer. Advised by Miz not to return to Munich because of a growing political hostility to intellectuals, settles in New York. Vaclav Vytlacil helps arrange a teaching position for him at the Art Students League.
1932-33 -- Summer sessions at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts continue in St. Tropez (1932) and Murnau (1933), taught by Edmund Daniel Kinzinger. The school closes in the fall of 1933, and Miz gives up the lease in 1936.
1933 -- Spends the summer as guest instructor at the Thurn School of Art in Gloucester, Mass. In the fall, opens the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts at 444 Madison Avenue in New York. After a prolonged period of drawing, begins to paint again.
1934 -- Upon the expiration of his visa, travels to Bermuda to return with a permanent visa. Opens a summer school in Provincetown, Mass. The Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts opens at 137 East 57th Street in New York. In 1936, the Hofmann School moves to 52 West 9th Street.
1938 -- The Hofmann School moves to 52 West 8th Street. A planned European summer session (traveling to Paris, the Cote d'Azure, Italy, and Capri) is called off after Hitler moves into Austria in the Spring. Delivers a lecture series once a month at the school in the winter of 1938-39, which is attend by the vanguard of the New York art world, including Arshile Gorky and Clement Greenberg.
1939 -- Miz Hofmann arrives in America. After a stay in New Orleans, joins her husband in Provincetown. They spend five months each summer in Provincetown and the rest of the year in New York.
1941 -- Becomes an American citizen. Delivers an address at the annual meeting of the American Abstract Artists at the Riverside Museum. One-person exhibition at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans.
1942 -- Hofmann's former student Lee Krasner introduces him to Jackson Pollock.
1944 -- First exhibition in New York at Art of This Century Gallery, arranged by Peggy Guggenheim. "Hans Hofmann, Paintings, 1941-1944" opens at the Arts Club in Chicago and travels on to the Milwaukee Art Institute in January 1945. Howard Putzel includes Hofmann in "Forty American Moderns" at 67 Gallery, New York. He is also included in "Abstract and Surrealist Art in America" at the Mortimer Brandt Gallery, New York (arranged by Sidney Janis in conjunction with publication of Janis's book of the same title).
1947 -- Exhibitions at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, in Pittsburgh, and at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. The Texas show travels to Denton, Tex.; Norman, Okla.; and Memphis, Tenn. Begins to exhibit with the Kootz Gallery in New York. Kootz holds a one-person show of Hofmann's work each year until his death (with the exception of 1948 and 1956).
1948 -- Retrospective exhibition a the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass., in conjunction with publication of his book, Search For the Real and Other Essays.
1949 -- Travels to Paris to attend the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Maeght and visits the studios of Picassso, Braque, Constantin Brancusi, and Joan Miro. Helps Fritz Bultman and Weldon Kees organize Forum 49, a summer series of lectures, panels, and exhibitions at Gallery 200 in Provincetown.
1950 -- Participates in a three-day symposium at Studio 35 in New York with William Baziotes, James Brooks, Willem de Kooning, Herbert Ferber, Theodoros Stamos, David Smith, and Bradley Walker Tomlin. Joins the "Irascibles"-a group of Abstract Expressionists-in an open letter protesting the exclusion of the avant-garde from an upcoming exhibition of American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
1951 -- Juries the 60th Annual Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago with Aline Louchheim and Peter Blume.
1954 -- One-person exhibition held at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
1955 -- Designs mosaic murals for the lobby of the new William Kaufmann Building, architect William Lescaze, at 711 Third Avenue, New York. Retrospective held at the Art Alliance in Philadelphia.
1957 -- Retrospective exhibitions held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which then travel to Des Moines, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, Utica, and Baltimore.
1958 -- Hofmann ceases teaching to devote himself full time to painting. He moves his studio into the New York and Provincetown schools. Completes a mosaic mural for the exterior of the New York School of Printing (Kelley and Gruzen, architects) at 439 West 49th Street.
1960 -- Represents the United States with Philip Guston, Franz Kline, and Theodore Roszak at the XXX Venice Biennale.
1962 -- Retrospective exhibition opens in Germany at the Frankische Galerie am Marientor, Nuremberg, and travels to the Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, and the Kongreilhalle, Berlin. In Munich, Neue Galerie im Kunstlerhaus presents "Oils on Paper, 1961-1962." Awarded an honorary membership in the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Nuremberg and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Dartmouth College in Hanover, N. H.
1963 -- Miz Hofmann dies. Retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art organized by William Seitz travels throughout the United States and internationally to locations in South America and Europe, including Stuttgart, Hamburg, and Bielefeld. Signs a historic agreement to donate 45 paintings to the University of California at Berkeley and to fund the construction of a gallery in his honor at the new university museum, then in the planning stage. The exhibition "Hans Hofmann and His Students," organized by the Museum of Modern Art, circulates in the United States and Canada.
1964 -- Awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Serves on the jury for the 1964 Solomon Guggenheim International Award. Becomes a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York. Renate Schmitz inspires the Renate series.
1965 -- Awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree by Pratt Institute, New York. Marries Renate Schmitz on 14 October.
1966 -- Hans Hofmann dies on 17 February in New York.
The holdings of the Archives of American Art include papers and oral history interviews of many former students and friends of Hofmann; among these collections are correspondence, photographs, reminiscences, writings, and printed items relating to Hofmann and his school. The Lillian Kiesler Papers, 1920s-1990s include records of the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts.
Other Hans Hofmann Papers, 1929-1976 (1.65 linear ft.) are owned by The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (Collection number: BANC MSS 80/27 c). An inventory is available on The Bancroft Library's website at http//www.lib.berkeley.edu/BANC/
Monographs and periodicals (376 items) from Hofmann's Library not directly related to the artist were transferred to the Library of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in 2001. The Library retained relevant volumes, dispersed others to appropriate libraries within the Smithsonian Institution, and made final decisions regarding disposition of any remaining items.
Renate Schmitz Hofmann, widow of the artist, donated to the Archives of American Art 313 35-mm color slides of work by Hans Hofmann in 1974. The remainder of the collection was a gift of the Estate of Hans Hofmann in 1997. Tina Dickey donated her research material in 2000 and 2001 under the auspices of the Renate, Hans, and Maria Hofmann Trust. In 2006, additional manuscripts, notes, and illustrations for Hofmann's Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in der Gestaltung were received from the Trust. In 2015, the Trust donated additional correspondence, research and video production materials related to two documentaries on Hans Hofmann by Madeline Amgott. 13.0 linear ft. books, exhibition catalogs, and periodicals (376 items) from Hofmann's library, received with the collection, were transferred to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum-National Portrait Gallery Library.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Max Spoerri interview: Authorization to quote or reproduce for purposes of publication requires written permission from Max Spoerri. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- Study and teaching Search this
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Art Schools -- New York (State)
Hans Hofmann papers, circa 1904-2011, bulk 1945-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
Use of original material requires an appointment. Use of audiovisual material with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
Robert Richenburg papers, circa 1910s-2008. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.