A Riot Of Color Roars In Miami To Usher In Art Basel Season As The Exhibition Walls Of Color: The Murals Of Hans Hofmann Opens October 10 At The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU
The Smithsonian affiliate in Miami (on view through January 3). This exhibition is the first-ever to showcase a vital aspect of the mid-century Modern Master’s art, his large-scale public mural projects.
This exhibition headlines Art Basel season at the Frost Art Museum FIU, along with the 12th annual “Breakfast in the Park” (an official Art Basel Miami Beach event) with guest-lecturer American sculptor Alice Aycock.
Nine towering oil studies (each seven feet tall) are the show’s centerpieces, created by Hofmann for the famed 1950 project to re-design the Peruvian city of Chimbote (Hofmann’s visionary collaboration with Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert that was never realized). The Chimbote Series and related architectural drawings and studies are presented thanks to the Trustees of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust.
The exhibition also features several key paintings leading up to and following his murals. Hofmann is recognized worldwide as a leader in the evolution of Abstract Expressionism, both as an artist and as a celebrated teacher who influenced a generation of America’s most distinguished artists. “The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color,” said Hans Hofmann.
The opening reception is free and open to the public on Saturday, Oct. 10 (4–7 p.m.). The museum is located at Florida International University, 10975 S.W. 17 St. (map/ directions).
The Museum’s Steven and Dorothea Green Critics’ Lecture Series presents a lecture and Curator’s tour by Dr. Kenneth Silver, New York University Professor of Modern Art and Curator of this exhibition at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut (where Walls of Colororiginated before coming to the Frost), at 4:30 p.m. during the October 10th opening reception. (The lecture and Curator’s tour are also free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP to [email protected] is required by Oct. 7 to guarantee seating.)
(Out of This World, 1945 by Hans Hofmann / Collection of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU,
Gift of Dr. Paul Lambert Schmitz)
“Hans Hofmann was the linchpin for Abstract Expressionism, and the Frost Art Museum FIU is thrilled to bring this first-ever show about Hofmann’s mural works to Miami for Art Basel season,” said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy, the museum’s director.
“Walls of Color will provide valuable context for the history of collaboration between architects, artists and developers. A touchstone in a city like Miami, with its historic MiMo and Art Deco architectural districts and the recent contemporary mural movement in Wynwood that serve as hallmarks of Miami’s success as a cultural destination.”
“This aspect of Hofmann’s career will shed light on the wide-ranging ambitions of one of the most seminal artists of the 20th century,” adds Dr. Pomeroy.
The German-born American artist (1880-1966) spent most of his life teaching in New York and Provincetown where he nurtured some of the most esteemed artists of the 20th century including: Lee Krasner, Larry Rivers, Joan Mitchell, Red Grooms, Ray Eames and Helen Frankenthaler.
His push/pull spatial theories (the interdependent relationships between form, color and space) and innovative usage of color revolutionized the Abstract Expressionist movement. In 2015, Hofmann’s artwork Auxerre (1960) sold for $6,325,000 at auction at Christie’s New York, establishing a new world record for the artist.
(Provincetown Docks, circa 1937 by Hans Hofmann / Collection of Drs. Mark and Elizabeth Rogers)
The exhibition at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU features additional works exclusively on view only in Miami. These include the gouache-on-paper Out of this World (from the Frost Art Museum’s collection), the oil-on-panel Provincetown Docks (loaned by Miami-based collectors Drs. Mark and Elizabeth Rogers), and two other works-on-paper from the Frost’s collection, All Art Needs (Is) The Sperm Of France, and Untitled. The exhibition features a total of 36 artworks, featuring paintings, works on paper, collage, sketches, a light box, maquette and architectural rendering.
Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann is anchored by nine large-scale oil studies that Hofmann created during his collaboration with architect Josep Lluís Sert, designer of the famed Spanish Pavilion for the 1937 Paris World’s Fair which housed Picasso’s iconic Guernica mural.
Although the project did not come to fruition due to political upheaval in Peru, the original conception included an enormous mosaic wall with a freestanding bell tower co-mingling Abstract Expressionist and Peruvian motifs.
This exhibition also explores two of Hofmann’s glass-tiled public murals located in Manhattan that have been largely overlooked until now. The two mid-century collaborations brought to light are:
One with developer William Kaufman and modernist architect William Lescaze, a boldly colorful mosaic wrapped around four sides of the elevator bank in the entry hall of the office building at 711 Third Avenue. The other, commissioned by the New York City Board of Education, is a 64 foot long and 11 foot tall mosaic-tile mural on West 49th Street, currently the site of the High School of Graphic Arts and Communication. Both public murals may still be viewed today in New York.
(Chimbote Mural Fragment of Part II, 1950 by Hans Hofmann / The Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust Photograph by Doug Young)
Frost Art Museum FIU Brings Arts Learning to Under-Served
Public Schools in Miami
Thanks to the exhibition’s funding from the J.P. Morgan Foundation, the Frost Art Museum FIU’seducational initiatives are going directly into the classrooms. An intervention of much-needed arts learning began in September at two of Miami’s most under-served, Title 1 elementary schools.
Due to budget cuts in the arts, students at these schools receive only one hour of art instruction per week.
More than 400 students from Sweetwater and Stirrup Elementary Schools have been participating in a hands-on art project that culminates with the creation of permanent murals in both schools. The students (grades 2-5) are studying color theory and other elements of Hofmann’s art and are collaboratively creating large-scale mosaic murals based on Hofmann’s designs that will remain at these schools for future generations.
(Awakening, 1947 by Hans Hofmann / Private Collection Photograph by Paul Mutino)
More About Hans Hofmann
In his American Heritage magazine essay, the artist Frank Stella proclaimed Hofmann as “The Artist of the Century.”
From the PBS biography of Hoffman:
“Students in America’s art schools today are reaping what he sowed through his 40 years of teaching. Artists around the world employ his color theories. In 1933, Hofmann opened the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts at 444 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Over the next few years . . . its reputation continued to spread. Art students from all over North America heard of the unique teacher from Europe who imparted to American students what he had learned from Picasso, Braque, Matisse and Delaunay.”
“He became known as an instructor who allowed his students to explore and experiment with their own technique while still encouraging them to take their visual cues from the natural world surrounding them. A summer school was opened in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1934, and Hofmann divided his time between the city and the coast. His impact as a teacher is still palpable today, as his theories of the “push and pull” of color and of breaking up the picture plane are still being disseminated by art teachers all over the world.”
(Mosaic Mural, 711 Third Avenue, New York, 1956 by Hans Hofmann (detail) / Photograph by Paul Mutino)
“At the age of 64, Hofmann’s first exhibition in New York was organized by Peggy Guggenheim and held at the Art of This Century Gallery.”
“Though a generation older than Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorki, Clyfford Still and Willem de Kooning, Hofmann took his place as a major and influential member of this thoroughly American art movement.”
“In 1960, Hofmann was one of four artists representing the United States at the Venice Biennale, and three years later a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art traveled throughout the United States and internationally to South America and Europe.”
“Lowery Sims, who curated Hofmann’s 1999 retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum, says of the artist’s late bloom, ‘Hans Hofmann came into his own in the 1950s and 60s when he’s in his seventies and eighties… It sort of defies the notion that creativity is only the province of the young. He’s a really great example for people to understand that creativity is a lifelong promise.’ ” (This bio in quotes is from www.pbs.org/hanshofmann/
This exhibition was organized by the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, with the support of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust.