PRINT Summer 1969

Hofmann’s Rectangles

HANS HOFMANN WAS THE ONLY ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST to use color as a free, fully relational pictorial element, full blast, undimmed by the usual dull requirements of Cubist space. This essay is not about that splendid color, nor about the very high quality of his art, which I leave aside as a prior assumption. It is about a purely spatial device which Hofmann contrived to let color in on a reluctant style: the superimposed “floating” rectangle which figured in so many of the paintings of the last ten years of his life.

Hofmann was a Cubist-Abstract-Expressionist. His chosen style was large-scale small-piece allover expressive Cubism, for which I have in previous essays substituted the initial word LASPAC, to apply to the work of Pollock or to de Kooning between about 1945 to 1955. Hofmann is not as “pure” a LASPAC painter as Pollock; his picture-size is usually smaller and the piece-size

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