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The Hans Hofmann Legacy: Creative Diversity

Cape Cod Museum of Art

January 18-March 11, 2018

Public Reception – January 25, 5:30 – 7 p.m.

Hans Hofmann’s influence and importance as a teacher and an artist on American art is momentous. – Deborah Forman, Guest Curator

Hans Hofmann taught the exciting new approaches of European modernism to the thousands of students who flocked to his Provincetown and New York schools. From 1935 to 1957, his classes inspired a new direction in American art. ”Although Hofmann advocated very specific rules and approaches, he was acutely aware of his students’ individuality and encouraged their creative instincts. As a result, the diversity of styles his students achieved is remarkable” says Deborah Forman, Guest Curator for the show.

This exhibit focuses on a selection of his students who, armed with his teachings, created a variety of distinctly innovative American art forms. In addition to several of Hofmann’s paintings, this show will include the works of 27 artists, including Paul Resika, John Grillo, George McNeil, Robert Beauchamp, and Robert Henry, who have had a close connection to the Provincetown art colony.

Deborah Forman, a significant contributor to the art history of Cape Cod, is the Guest Curator for this exhibition.

Along with art from the CCMoA collection, works on loan from the Berta Walker Gallery, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Cove Gallery and local collectors will present a broad view of Hofmann’s influence.

In her comments for the exhibition Forman says:

Although Hofmann advocated very specific rules and approaches in his classes, he was acutely aware of his students’ individuality and refused to tread on their creative instincts. As a result, the diversity of styles his students achieved is remarkable, which this exhibition will demonstrate. There is sometimes a direct reference to Hofmann in a student’s work, or the art is so different the relationship is not apparent, which is a credit to his teaching.

Hofmann (1880-1966) taught in New York and Provincetown. Because of his school and the artists who studied with him this little fishing village became perhaps the most important art colony in the country. As the National Trust of Historic Preservation declared in 2010, Provincetown is “home of the nation’s oldest art colony.”

When Hofmann came from his native Germany to the United States in 1930, he brought with him the vigor of European modernism, which was a major influence on American artists who had limited experience with the avant-garde art that was flourishing across the Atlantic. Hofmann spent a decade in Paris until 1914 and experienced first-hand the explosion of major movements, Fauvism and Cubism. Paul Cezanne’s work influenced him and he knew Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Robert Delaunay.

During and after World War II, Hofmann’s influence, along with other Europeans who fled war-torn Europe, nourished a totally original American art. Abstract Expressionism took hold and New York displaced Paris as the world art center. Because Hofmann spent so many years in Provincetown, its position as an art colony, established in 1899 when Charles Hawthorne opened his Cape Cod School of Art, was greatly enhanced.

Deborah Forman is the author of five books published by Schiffer Publishing: Perspectives on the Provincetown Art Colony, a two-volume history; Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: Images of Land and Sea; Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: People & Places; and Contemporary Cape Cod Artists: On Abstraction. Her most recent book, Art from Cape Cod: Selections from the Cape Cod Museum of Art was co-written with museum director Edith Tonelli. She writes a monthly art column for the Cape Cod Times and also writes for several art publications.

A CCMoA class with Deborah Forman related to the exhibition begins Tuesday, Jan. 23 from 2-4 p.m. for 6 weeks.

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