An interview of Ralph Coburn conducted 1995 May 25 and 1995 June 23, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Coburn's home, Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Coburn talks about his parents and his childhood in Miami Beach, Florida; his early schooling; and entering Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1941, in its 5-year architecture program. He recalls Walter Netsch, a classmate at MIT, who later became a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who introduced Coburn to modern design and to avant-garde music. He also recalls the painter and head of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts School, Karl Zerbe, his teacher in the course of his work for advanced MIT architecture students. He talks about his return to Florida as a draftsman for an aircraft equipment company in Miami, outfitting planes for the African campaign, and his foreman, a son of Al Capone; then returning to Massachusetts to work with an electrical company making secret military components.
Coburn discusses returning to and dropping out of MIT; working at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston through Hyman Swetzoff; following Swetzoff to the Boris Mirski Gallery; studying at Mirski's art school with Esther Geller and John Wilson and friends made at the school, including Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Polonsky, and Reed Kaye. He recalls Carl Nelson, one of his teachers. He talks about the change in atmosphere at the Institute with the replacement of Thomas Metcalf by James Plaut and Nathaniel Saltonstall who changed the Institute's name to Institute of Contemporary Art and the protest surrounding the name change.
Biographical / Historical:
Ralph Coburn (1923- ) is an architect, painter, and designer currently living in Gloucester, Massahusetts.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 36 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
The papers of the painter Cecilia Beaux measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1863 to 1968. Papers document her education, career and personal life through family and professional correspondence, twelve diaries, lectures, essays, poems, notes, clippings, catalogs, pamphlets, exhibition records, business records, photographs, certificates, diplomas, and artifacts.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of the painter Cecilia Beaux measure 3.3 linear feet and date from 1863 to 1968.
Biographical Materials include autobiographical notes written by Beaux, published biographical essays, and articles about Beaux. A lengthy correspondence from Beaux to her friend A. Piatt Andrew of Massachusetts is found, as well as correspondence with family and professional associates. Lengthy letters from Beaux to her family during trips to Europe contain scattered illustrations. Professional correspondents include other artists, teachers, patrons, critics, curators, dealers, and writers.
Writings include one early diary from the 1870s, and a series of eleven additional diaries dating from 1905 to 1913, which record daily activities related to her artwork and personal life. Numerous lectures and essays from her later career are found, often in multiple drafts, as are manuscripts of published and unpublished poems by Beaux. A single sketch, a study for a portrait, is also found.
A floor plan, lists of paintings, receipts, written bids, and other notes document the exhibition and sale of Beaux's artwork. Printed materials related to her career include exhibition catalogs and other ephemera, a scrapbook of primarily clippings related to her early career, and loose clippings related to her later career. Photographs include formal portraits of Cecilia Beaux and informal photographs of Beaux alone and with colleagues, friends, and family members in various settings including Concarneau, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Gloucester, and Malines, Belgium. Also found is a photograph of John Singer Sargent painting.
The collection is arranged into 6 series, with multiple subseries in Series 2:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, circa 1893-1943 (Box 1, OV 4-5; 0.3 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, circa 1863-1968 (Boxes 1-2; 1.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1868-1954 (Boxes 2-3, OV 6; 0.8 linear feet)
Series 4: Personal Business Records, circa 1883-1936 (Box 3, OV 6; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Materials, circa 1874-1953 (Box 3, OV 6; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1888-1919(Box 3; 0.3 linear feet)
Cecilia Beaux was born in Philadelphia in 1855. Her mother died just days after her birth, and Beaux and her sister went to live with their grandmother and aunts. Her adoptive family exposed her to fine art throughout her childhood and, once in school, Beaux excelled in her drawing classes and began training in the studio of Catherine A. Drinker, an artist and a cousin of her uncle Will Biddle. From 1881-1883 she attended life classes directed by William Sartain, who traveled to Philadelphia from New York to give criticisms. She also counted the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts master Thomas Eakins among her early influences, though she did not receive direct instruction from him.
Her first major success in painting was a double-portrait of her sister and nephew entitled Les Derniers Jours d'Enfance, exhibited first at the American Art Association, and in 1885 at the Pennsylvania Academy, where it won the Mary Smith Prize, the first of many prizes Beaux received during her lifetime. In 1887, the painting was exhibited at the Paris salon to critical acclaim. Beaux's reputation as a Philadelphia portraitist grew steadily with the execution of several portraits her in Chestnut Street studio, and in 1888 she traveled to Europe to continue her studio education.
In Paris, she joined the Academie Julien, where she received criticisms from Tony Robert Fleury and William Adolph Bougereau. She spent the summer in Concarneau, Brittany, where Alexander Harrison and Charles Lazar critiqued her work, and returned to Paris, where she attended the Academie Colarossi under and sought out private criticisms in the atelier of Benjamin Constant. She copied paintings and classical sculpture at the Louvre, and traveled throughout Europe to view the works of old masters. In England, she painted several portraits of her friends, the Darwins, before returning to Philadelphia in August of 1889. She traveled to Europe several more times in her life, including a trip in 1896 to see six of her paintings exhibited at the Salon de Champs de Mars. At the time this was an unprecedented number of paintings shown there by an American, and their strength earned her a membership in the Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
In the 1890s, Beaux earned a living painting commissioned portraits at her Philadelphia studio, while experimenting with and refining her style and technique with portraits of friends and family such as Sita and Sarita, of her cousin Sarah Leavitt with her cat, The Dreamer, of her friend Caroline Smith, and Ernesta with Nurse, of her niece, who was a favorite sitter of Beaux's throughout her life. Beaux became the first full-time female faculty member at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1895, and continued teaching there until 1915.
In the late 1890s, Beaux painted several works for which she would be repeatedly honored, including Mother and Daughter, a double-portrait of Mrs. Clement A. Griscom and her daughter Frances, which won four gold medals at international exhibitions, and The Dancing Lesson, a double-portrait of Dorothea and Francesca Gilder, the daughters of Richard Watson Gilder, editor of Century Magazine and himself a devoted friend and supporter of Beaux. The Gilders, and especially Dorothea, were steady companions as well as sitters for Beaux throughout her adult life. In 1901 and 1902, Beaux painted Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and her daughter Ethel in the White House, and in 1903, she was elected to the National Academy of Design.
By 1905 Beaux was living and working primarily in New York during the winter, and at "Green Alley," a home she built in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the summer. She was introduced to Gloucester by her friend, the Harvard economist A. Piatt Andrew, and entertained a steady stream of intellectual, literary, and artistic friends such as Isabella Stuart Gardner, William James, and Thornton Oakley. Beaux continued to amass prizes and honors for her artwork, including an honorary doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1908. She had solo exhibitions at Macbeth Gallery in 1910, the Corcoran Gallery in 1912, and M. Knoedler Gallery in 1915 and 1917. She had regular public speaking appearances, published articles, and interviews on such subjects as art education, women in art, and modernist art, the pervasive influence of which she eschewed as a passing fad.
In 1919, she traveled to war-torn Europe as the official portraitist of the United States War Portraits Commission painted the portraits of three European war heroes: Cardinal Mercier, Admiral Beatty, and Georges Clemenceau. In 1924, she broke her hip in Paris, and although she continued to paint, she would never again be the prolific painter of her earlier years due to the injury. She wrote her autobiography Background with Figures in 1930, and in 1935-1936, the American Academy of Arts and Letters held the largest exhibition of her work that was mounted during her lifetime. Beaux died in 1942 in Gloucester, at the age of 87.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts holds additional papers related to Cecilia Beaux, particularly personal photographs. Portions of these papers were loaned to the Archives of American Art for microfilming in 1985 and were microfilmed on reel 3658.
The Archives of American Art also holds the Dorothea Gilder papers regarding Cecilia Beaux.
The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels 3425 and 3658) including a sketchbook and other related papers. Lent materials were returned to the lenders and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Portions of the papers were first lent for microfilming by Harrison Cultra in 1968. The bulk of the collection was donated in1970-1971 by Catherine Drinker Bowen, Beaux's niece, and by Cultra. In 1985, the sketchbook on reel 3425 was lent for microfilming by art dealer Jeffrey Brown with additional material by The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. A palette was donated by Helen Seely Wheelwright, whose former husband, Paul Seeley, was an artist and friend of Beaux. Awards and diplomas were gifted in 1995 by Cecilia Saltonstall, a descendant of Beaux. Material and a poster reproduction of Beaux's portrait of Rear-Admiral Sampson advertising an article in Century Magazine, 1899, was donated in 1991 by Alfred J. Walker, a dealer who organized a Beaux exhibition. He received the material along with artwork he exhibited from the estate of Richard Barker, who had received them from Harrison Cultra. Cultra had inherited them from Beaux's niece, Ernesta Drinker Barlow.
The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.
The papers of realist painter, muralist, and educator Leon Kroll date from circa 1900 to 1988 and measure 8.7 linear feet. The collection documents Kroll's painting career, teaching, and active participation in numerous art organizations. Over one-half of the collection is correspondence with artists, schools, galleries, museums, patrons, arts organizations, and others. Also found are scattered biographical material, writings and notes, legal and financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, other printed material, photographs of Kroll and colleagues, loose drawings and nine sketchbooks.
Scope and Content Note:
The papers of realist painter, muralist, and art instructor Leon Kroll date from circa 1900 to 1988 and measure 8.7 linear feet. The collection documents Kroll's painting career, teaching, and active participation in numerous art organizations. Over one-half of the collection is correspondence with artists, schools, galleries, museums, patrons, arts organizations, family members, and others. Also found are scattered biographical material, writings and notes, legal and financial records, exhibition catalogs, clippings, other printed material, photographs of Kroll and colleagues, loose drawings, and nine sketchbooks.
Biographical material contains chronologies, biographical essays, awards, price lists, interview transcripts, and a file about the Committee on Government and Art. More than one-half of the collection consists of Kroll's personal and professional correspondence with artists such as Gifford Beal, George Biddle, Isabel Bishop, Barry Faulkner, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Paul Manship, Hobart Nichols, Eugene Speicher, Maurice Stern, Esther Williams, and many others. Additional correspondence is with art critics, curators, dealers, students, patrons, schools, museums, and numerous arts organizations. There is also extensive correspondence with arts administrators regarding government art projects, especially his friend and fellow artist Edward Bruce, Director of the U. S. Treasury Department's Section for Fine Arts.
Writings and notes by Leon Kroll including autobiographical essays, drafts of lectures and speeches, lists, and other scattered notes. Also found is a small amount of writings by others, including an essay by Julia Langsam describing her experience as an artist's model for Kroll. Legal and financial records include contracts, loan agreements, art sales receipts, and several ledgers recording consignments and monthly receipts and expenditures. One ledger specifically documents financial transactions for Kroll's mural commissions for the Justice Department and the Worcester War Memorial.
Printed material contains numerous news clippings about Kroll and his work and includes several articles written by Kroll. Also found are exhibition announcements and catalogs for Kroll's solo exhibitions, material about the Worcester War memorial, and miscellaneous printed items.
Photographs include one of Kroll with his family, Kroll in his studio and working on murals, and several of him with other artists as jurors for art exhibitions. Artists pictured include Isabel Bishop, Reginal Marsh, John Sloan, Raphael Soyer, Eugene Speicher, and others. Also found are photographs of Edward Bruce, as well as photographs of exhibitions, artwork by Leon Kroll, and artwork by others. All of the original artwork in this collection is by Leon Kroll and includes loose drawings and ten sketchbooks containing drawings of landscapes, figures, portraits, and animals.
The collection is arranged into 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1906-1977 (Boxes 1, 7; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1905-1988 (Boxes 1-4, 7; 3.8 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings and Notes, circa 1920s-1972 (Box 4-5, 7; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 4: Legal and Financial Records, circa 1914-1985 (Boxes 5, 7; 1.0 linear feet)
Series 5: Printed Material, circa 1920s-1987 (Boxes 5-6, 8-9; 0.7 linear feet)
Series 6: Photographs, circa 1900-1979 (Boxes 6, 8-10; 1.7 linear feet)
Series 7: Artwork, circa 1910-1950s (Boxes 6, 8; 0.4 linear feet)
Leon Kroll (1884-1974) was a leading realist painter during the 1920s and 1930s.
Born in New York City, Kroll attended classes at the Art Students League as a teenager, and studied painting with John Henry Twachtman. In the early 1900s he began taking classes at the National Academy of Design, where he won student prizes, and had his first major exhibition in 1906. In 1908 he won a scholarship to study art in Paris and attended the Académie Julian, studying at the atelier of Jean-Paul Laurens. Through he practiced realism, Kroll was also influenced by French impressionist painters, specifically Paul Cézanne. While in Paris he also met Genevieve (Viette) Domec. They married later in 1923 and had one daughter, Marie-Claude.
Upon his return to New York in 1910, Kroll had a one man show of his Paris work at the National Academy where he received critical acclaim. The next year he began teaching at the National Academy of Design. During his career, he also taught at the Maryland Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and was a guest instructor and lecturer at several other schools.
Kroll was part of a circle of New York artists that included several members of "The Eight", and he was especially close with Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Bellows, and Eugene Speicher. During his time in Europe he also became friends with Marc Chagall and Robert and Sonia Delaunay. He exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913 and during the next few decades won numerous major national and international prizes in painting, including first prize at the 1936 Carnegie International Exhibition. He had his first retrospective exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum in 1937. Kroll was especially known for his paintings of female nudes, but also painted New York City street scenes, New England landscapes, and portraits. Beginning in the late 1930s he was commissioned to paint murals at public buildings including, among others, the U. S. Department of Justice Building, the war memorial in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the auditorium at Johns Hopkins University.
Throughout his career Kroll was a very active member of professional arts organizations. He was an Associate and later a Academician at the National Academy of Design, and his memberships included the New Society of Artists; American Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers; Artists Equity Association; Four Arts Aid Association; and the National Institute of Arts and Letters among others. He also served as a board officer for many of these organizations. Kroll was active in the federal arts programs from the 1930s to the 1950s and close friends with Edward Bruce, director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Section for Fine Arts.
Kroll maintained a studio in New York City and spent summers at his home and studio at Folly Cove, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Leon Kroll died in 1974 at the age of 89.
Leon Kroll donated a portion of his papers in 1968. His widow, Genevieve Kroll, donated the rest of the papers in 1976. Two additions were donated in 2019, via Cory Churches and the Estate of Grace Pugh, both descendants of Kroll.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
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. Researchers are advised to conduct a name search in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS).
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 -- Massachusetts
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.