For this AMD assignment, I decided to delve more into German art, this time learning about the German artist Hans Hofmann. Last semester, I had my first experience analyzing art at the UMMA and dissecting the various pieces offered and what the artists meant to portray. I thought that by analyzing art by German artists, I would perhaps be able to come to a deeper understanding of the various ways that art is reflective of society. That is, German society, history, and culture. Bare in mind, I’m continually developing my ability to analyze art and familiarity with terminology.
To Miz – Pax Vobiscum (1964)
The first piece was created after the death of Hofmann’s first wife, and was meant to convey the mystery, and simultaneously beauty, of life and death. Hofmann was known for his employment of vivid color, winding brush strokes, and Cubist structure. Upon analyzing this piece, I notice his use of color and brush strokes to invoke a sense of nostalgia. The colors sort of remind me of the colors of the clothes that I would wear in kindergarten. Hofmann was also known to pioneer the technics of portraying depth in paintings, in which the contrast in colors, varied brush strokes, and clear lines was meant to add depth, and elevate the view of the painting as a life force in and of itself.
The Conjurer (1959)
This piece was harder for me to interpret, being that it doesn’t necessarily have a subject. I view it more as an exercise of Hofmann’s emphasis on depth, and how an artists should embrace the two-dimensional canvas, not with three-dimensional figures, but by manipulation color, shape, and texture to form spatial relationships. This piece isn’t meant to portray reality, but rather something more abstract. At the same time, however, Hofmann’s idea of depth in painting emphasized that by giving depth, even the most abstract piece mirrors nature and livelihood.
Hofmann had explored a wide variety of art styles in his life, but most memorable to me were his pieces that incorporated structure. This is because in thinking about German society—the structure and organization—I can’t help but to see how his upbringing in Germany may have influenced how he went about his work. At the same time, Hofmann’s style reflects a conglomerate of many other artists, much like how German culture has spread its influence in the world while simultaneously taking in influence from other cultures. During the second World War, numerous artists fled Europe for New York, and a new movement of Abstract Expressionism, which Hofmann had a great influence on, began.