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Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann at the Bruce Museum

This spring and summer the Bruce Museum located on One Museum Drive in Greenwich will be awash in the vibrant hues of Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffman.

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) Awakening, 1947 Oil on canvas, 59 ¼  x 40 ¼ in. Private Collection Photograph by Paul Mutino  Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966)
Awakening, 1947
Oil on canvas, 59 ¼ x 40 ¼ in.
Private Collection
Photograph by Paul Mutino
Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann, is the first ever exhibition to focus on the artist’s varied and under-appreciated public mural projects that will be on view at the Bruce Museum through September 6.  The show will then travel to The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, FL (October 10, 2015 to January 3, 2016), and to the Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC (January 22 to April 10, 2016).

A towing figure among the New York School painters and one of the most important teachers and theoretician of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Hans Hoffman is well known for his dynamic approach to color. The centerpiece of Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann will be nine oil studies by Hofmann,each seven feet tall, for the redesign of the Peruvian city of Chimbote. This was Hofmann’s extraordinary collaboration, in 1950, with Catalan architect José Luis Sert – the man who designed the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair in 1937, for which Picasso’s great mural Guernica was conceived. Although never realized, this visionary project was to include a huge mosaic wall – a freestanding bell tower in the town center – designed by Hofmann, which would incorporate not only his own highly evolved notions of Abstract Expressionist visual dynamics, but also forms symbolic of traditional Peruvian culture, religion and history.

Apartment Sketch Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) Mosaic for Apartment House Sketch No. 14, 1956 Gouache and collage on cardboard, 39 x 22 ⅝ in. Collection of Deborah Goodman Davis Photograph by Thomas Quigley Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

Apartment Sketch
Hans Hofmann (1880-1966)
Mosaic for Apartment House Sketch No. 14, 1956
Gouache and collage on cardboard, 39 x 22 ⅝ in.
Collection of Deborah Goodman Davis
Photograph by Thomas Quigley
Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

Although now nearly forgotten, Hofmann also created two huge public murals in Manhattan. In 1956, for the developer William Kaufman, and in collaboration with the noted pioneer modernist architect William Lescaze, Hofmann created an astonishing, brilliantly colored mosaic mural, wrapped around the elevator bank in the main entrance hall of the office building at 711 Third Avenue. Two years later, in 1958, commissioned by the New York City Board of Education, Hofmann created a 64-foot long and 11-foot tall mosaic-tile mural for the High School of Printing (now the High School of Graphic Arts Communication) on West 49th Street.

These large scale stunning works will be brought back to life at the Bruce Museum via varied painted studies, mosaic maquettes, photos, and ephemera – as well as studies for a mural for an unrealized New York apartment house of the same period – which will show Hofmann’s working methods.

Lonely Journey Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) Lonely Journey, 1965 Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 ⅛ in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (1989.397),  Gift of Renate Hofmann, 1989 Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Image source: Art Resource, NY Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

Lonely Journey
Hans Hofmann (1880-1966)
Lonely Journey, 1965
Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 ⅛ in.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (1989.397),
Gift of Renate Hofmann, 1989
Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Image source: Art Resource, NY
Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

A scholarly catalogue has been created for the exhibition, with a foreword from the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust, and essays by Curator Kenneth Silver and Mary McLeod, Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University. Public programming planned for the exhibition includes the 2015 Bob and Pam Goergen Lecture Series, with lectures by Curator Kenneth E. Silver on Tuesday, May 5; Stacey Gershon, principal at Stacey Gershon Fine Art/MLG Art Advisory on Thursday, June 11; and Mary McLeod, Professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, Columbia University, on Thursday, June 25. All lectures will be held at the Museum and will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) Chimbote Mural Fragment of Part II, 1950 Oil on board, 84 ¼ x 36 ¼ in. Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust Photograph by Doug Young Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966)
Chimbote Mural Fragment of Part II, 1950
Oil on board, 84 ¼ x 36 ¼ in.
Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust
Photograph by Doug Young
Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust

About the Bruce Museum
The Bruce Museum is a museum of art and science and is located at One Museum Drive in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm; closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students up to 22 years, $6 for seniors and free for members and children less than five years. Individual admission is free on Tuesday. Free on-site parking is available and the Museum is accessible to individuals with disabilities. For additional information, call the Bruce Museum at (203) 869-0376 or visit the website at http://brucemuseum.org.

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