Hans Hofmann

Chimbote 1950 - Colors for the new city

October 23, 2022 – January 29, 2023

Introduction: Dr. Britta E. Buhlmann
former Director Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) played an important role at the interface between figuration and abstraction, between tradition and experiment, and between Europe and America. As a representative of Abstract Expressionism, the leading direction in American painting in the 1950s, he is one of the most innovative and important artistic personalities of the 20th century.

Born in 1880 in Weißenburg in Middle Franconia, he attended a private drawing and painting school in Munich from 1898 before moving to Paris in 1904, where he met Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse and Robert Delaunay. After founding a school of fine arts in Munich in 1915, which attracted numerous students from abroad, Hans Hofmann held summer courses in Germany and abroad in the 1920s. Later he established himself as a professor at American teaching institutions. When the political situation in Germany became increasingly tense and his painting was considered degenerate, he did not return to Germany from the USA on the advice of his wife. In 1934 he opened the Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York. Hofmann's school not only shaped Helen Frankenthaler and Lee Krasner, who studied there, but also influenced such important painters as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman.

In 2022, Hans Hofmann's largely unknown Chimbote designs for coloured murals, created in 1950, are on display in Germany for the first time. Two houses, the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern and the Museum Lothar Fischer, are now showing works that the painter created in collaboration with the architects Josep Lluís Sert and Paul Lester Wiener, who also worked in America. Although their urban design for the Peruvian town of Chimbote, which was developed after the end of the Second World War, was never realised, Hofmann's large-scale, colour-intensive pictorial works, which were meant to be realised as mosaics, convey a concentrated impression of this visionary project and of Hofmann's mastery of the art of mosaics and of his artistry in experimenting with form and colour.

Drawings, city maps, photographs and facsimile sketches of plans complete the exhibition. The painter's interest in a direct engagement with architecture also manifested itself after the Chimbote series: in 1956 he designed wall mosaics for the entrance hall of the William Kaufman Building in New York, and in 1958 he completed a mosaic for the façade of the New York School of Printing.

The sculptor Lothar Fischer (1933-2004) was also involved with architecture-related art throughout his life. As early as 1963, together with the artists' group SPUR, he designed the well-known SPUR building as a visionary architectural model. In 2004, in close cooperation with the architectural firm Berschneider + Berschneider, a specifically designed museum was created for the presentation of his sculptural work.

Catalogue German/English, edited by Britta E. Buhlmann, published by DCV Verlag, Berlin 2022, 24 €.

Project management: Dr. Annette Reich, Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern.

Special thanks to the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust, New York, who generously supported the exhibition and catalogue and thus made them possible.