Permit me to communicate to the public, through your paper, one that has lately been made by myself, and which I conceive may be of great utility. I was the other evening in a grand company, where the new lamp of Messrs. Quinquet and Lange was introduced, and much admired for its splendour; but a general inquiry was made, whether the oil it consumed was not in proportion to the light it afforded, in which case there would be no saving in the use of it.
Unfortunately, the "omissions" that Greenberg mentions in his first paragraph continue to this day. Hofmann the artist, as opposed to Hofmann the famous teacher, seems never to quite get hs due His omission from the "New American Painting" show that The Museum of Modern Art sent to Europe - 59 is a case in point an omission which did more to distort the picture than did the number of highly questionable inclusions.
A good share of the blame rests with the public of advanced art, which has its own kind of laziness and obtuseness, and usually asks that a "difficult" artist confine himself to a single readily identifiable manner before it will take trouble with him.
One would think that the exhilaration and satisfaction Taxes well spent essay be gotten from following advanced art were propor-tionate to the effort of discrimination required, but most of those who do the following do not seem to agree.
Having accepted advanced art in principle, they want it to be made easy within its own context, apparently. But Hofmann himself is also to blame in some part-and actually, the more excellence I find in his art the more I incline to shift the blame toward him.
The variety of manners and even of styles in which he works would conspire to deprive even the most sympathetic public of a clear idea of his achievement.
At the same time, such a diversity of manners makes one suspect an undue absorption in problems and challenges for their own sake. Or else that this artist too implicitly follows wherever his inventive fertility leads him instead of bending that fertility to his vision.
And Hofmann's inventiveness is truly enormous, to Taxes well spent essay point where he might be called a virtuoso of invention-such as only the Klee of the s was before him.
But, in art one cannot scatter one's shots with impunity, and Hofmann has paid a certain price, in terms of quality as well as acceptance, for doing so.
The price is certainly not as large as the price Klee paid in the s, but it may be larger than the one Klee paid in his prime when his "hand-written" approach and the small formats to which he restricted himself conferred a real unity of style upon all the different notational systems h used.
And unlike Picasso sinceHofmann has no ostensible main manner to which all his others are kept subordinate; he can work in as many as three or four different ones in the span of a year and give them all equal emphasis. The notion of experiment has been much abused in connection with modernist art, but Hofmann's painting would seem to justify its introduction if anything does.
Hofmann is perhaps the most difficult artist alive-difficult to grasp and to appreciate. But by the same token he is an immensely interesting, original, and rewarding one, whose troubles in clarifying his art stem in large part precisely from the fact that he has so much to say.
And though he may belong to the same moment in the evolution of easel painting as Pollock, he is even less categorizable.
He has been called a "German Expressionist," yet little in what is known as Expressionism, aside from Kandinsky's swirl, predicts him. His color and color textures may be "Nordic," but one clutches at this adjective in despair at a resolute originality in which the "Mediterranean" is assimilated.
I would maintain that the only way to begin placing Hofmann's art is by taking cognizance of the uniqueness of his life's course, which has cut across as many art movements as national boundaries, and put him in several different centers of art at the precise time of their most fruitful activity.
On top of that, his career as an artist has cut across at least three artists' generations. Born and educated in Germany, Hofmann lived in Paris on close terms with the original Fauves and the original Cubists in the decade toduring which both movements had their birth and efflorescence.
He was particularly close to Delaunay. He made frequent trips to France and Italy in the twenties, after having founded his school in Munich.
In he settled permanently in this country. For fifteen years he hardly picked up a brush but drew obsessively-as he says, to "sweat Cubism out.
His first one-man show in New York was held at Peggy Guggenheim's early inand since then he has shown in New York annually, as an artist with his reputation to make or break along with artists thirty to forty years younger, and asking for no special indulgence.
Hofmann himself explains the lateness of his development by the relative complacency fostered in him during his Paris years by the regular support of a patron, and by the time and energy he needed, afterward, to perfect himself as a teacher.
But I would suggest, further, that his Paris experience confronted him with too many faits accomplis by artists his own age or only a few years older; that he had to wait until the art movements of those and the inter-war years were spent before making his own move; that he had first to "get over" Fauvism and Cub-ism, and over Kandinsky, Mondrian, Arp, Masson, and Miro as well.
His own move started with Fauvish landscapes and large still-life interiors that he began painting shortly after The interiors amalgamate Matisse with Cubism in a fully personal way, but are if anything a little too brilliantly wrought.
The landscapes, however, especially the darker ones, open up a vision that Nolde alone had had a previous glimpse of, and Hofmann opens it up from a different direction Their billowing, broadly brushed surfaces declare depth and volume with a new, post-Matissean, and post-Monetian intensity of color, establishing unities in which both Fauvism and Impressionism acquire new relevance.Comprehensive and meticulously documented facts about taxes.
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CLEMENT GREENBERG. HOFMANN. More than a simple essay in praise of a great artist, this pays tribute to Hofmann's vast influence on American abstraction as well as on Greenberg, himself.
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