Born: Weissenberg, Germany 1880
Died: New York, New York 1966
oil on canvas 48 x 60 in. (121.8 x 152.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
3rd Floor, North Wing
One of the most influential art teachers of the first half of the twentieth century, Hans Hofmann came late to the brilliant abstractions that brought him fame as one of the country's leading modernist painters. He had lived in Paris from 1904 to 1914, knew Picasso, studied alongside Matisse, and saw first-hand the great 1906 Cézanne retrospective. In 1932, Hofmann immigrated to the United States and opened art schools in New York and Provincetown. Students who flocked to his classes were surprised that the renowned modernist set up traditional still lifes and required students to draw from models. But, he said, they needed to understand that modernist concepts of volume and void and the movement of color in space (a concept he called "push and pull") reflect the way forms function in the natural world.
Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008
Hans Hofmann built up the rich surface of Fermented Soil with layer upon layer of dense paint, in some paces nearly an inch thick, and paced his canvas with glowing color. The title evokes fertile land, a place rich with ideas and activity. Painted the year before he died, this work is a testament to Hofmann's lifelong commitment to visual experimentation. He was one of the most influential art teachers of the first half of the twentieth century, though he came late to the brilliant abstractions that brought him fame as one of the country's leading modernist painters.
paint - oil
fabric - canvas