Hans Hofmann (American, 1880-1966)
Image in Blue
Signed and dated "hhofmann/50" l.r., titled and dated on the reverse, identified on labels from André Emmerich, New York, and Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale and Santa Fe, and with a label from Kootz Gallery, New York, all affixed to the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61.0 cm), framed.
Condition: Minor scattered craquelure.
Provenance: Estate of the artist; Renate, Hans, and Maria Hofmann Trust; Ameringer Yohe Fine Art, New York; Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Santa Fe, New Mexico; to the current private collection, 2003.
Literature: Suzi Villiger, ed., Hans Hofmann: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings (Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, Vermont: Lund Humphries, 2014), cat. no. P782 (estate number M-0165).
Exhibitions: New Paintings by Hans Hofmann, Kootz Gallery, New York, November 13-December 1, 1951; Hans Hofmann, Boris Mirski Art Gallery, Boston, January 5-24, 1954; Hans Hofmann: Circa 1950, The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, January 14-April 5, 2009, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma, February 21-May 9, 2010, Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, July 3-October 17, 2010.
N.B. In the same year, 1950, that Hans Hofmann painted Image in Blue, he completed two similar works of the same size, Image in Green (now in the collection of the Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, New York) and Image in Black (private collection). Though painted at a moment when Hofmann was turning to pure abstraction, these three works maintain a tie to the figurative and may well have been intended as self-portraits. The "push and pull" Hofmann famously wrote and taught about emerges here not only in his application of color (the yellow pushing forward and the blue pulling into the picture plane), but also in the play between abstraction and figuration. Certainly Hofmann's preoccupation with color and the materiality of paint take center stage in this work--the densely textural impasto and the brilliant hues arrest the eye. But, the powerful brushstrokes that outline the almost triangular central shape ensure that viewers note the suggestion of a human face.
There is an extremely small loss (about 1/4 inch long) just above the signature (see image 22 and 23). There are two areas of especially thick impasto who's tops might have been gentle pressed (see images 24 and 25). There are no other issues to report.
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