PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ARNOLD KOPELSON
Hans Hofmann (German, 1880-1966)
Blue Vase, 1940 oil on panel 34 3/4 x 25 in. 88.3 x 63.5 cm. This work was executed in 1940.
ProvenanceHans Hofmann Estate, New York Andre Emmerich Gallery, Inc., New York (acquired from the above in 1974) Helga and Robert Hoenigsberg Collection, New York (acquired from the above in 1974) Sale: Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art, Part I, 10 November 1986, Lot 2 Private Collection, New York Sale: Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art, Part II, 20 November 1996, Lot 79 Acquired directly from the above by the present owner LiteratureJames Yohe, Hans Hofmann, New York 2002, p. 84, illustrated in color Suzi Villiger, Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Volume Two: Catalogue Entries P1-P846 (1901-1951), Farnham 2014, p. 159, no. P264, illustrated in colorHans Hofmann is regarded as one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century art in America. In addition to being renowned as a teacher, his artistic practice was central to the creative explosion in New York surrounding and following the world wars. The present painting is a lyrical example of the artist's interior scenes of the period around 1940, featuring the exuberance, bold color and formal contrast that his best works are celebrated for. Blue Vase (1940), has an almost jazz-like sense of energetic movement in the lively shapes and dynamic brush strokes. The vibrant colors catch the eye of the viewer and the impressive use of form encourages it to follow the composition across the picture plane. The more restrained shape of the titular blue vase sits on a stool, while the bouquet explodes from the top in an extravagance of color and line, connecting the left and right sides of the painting, divided vertically by a bright, white line. The colors play with each other across this dividing line, with the powerful red and blue tones competing with each other for dominance. The tension of the color play is only one element of the conversation between the areas that enthralls the viewer. The left space references more classical European painting tropes through the inclusion of the vase and bouquet. In comparison, the right space lets loose with the freedom of artistic exploration unique to New York between the world wars with strong, gestural brushwork and expressionist line. At a time when Hans Hofmann and Abstract Expressionism were just beginning, this magnificent painting acknowledges art history and the past, while capturing the rigorous and riotous spirit of the new push towards abstraction. Hofmann's work can be found in major global institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He was the subject of major museum shows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2014-2015 and the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, Germany in 2013.