new-york

Hans Hofmann

Whitney Museum of American Art

Hans Hofmann is widely considered a central figure in the rise of American Modernism. Born in Germany, Hofmann came to America and for many years taught art and art theory to students who later gained reputations in their own rights. That Hofmann, like Josef Albers, was an important proselytizer who carried the torch from Europe and passed it on to younger artists eager to make advanced painting is undeniable; whether this is as central to the history of American art as historians and critics have argued is questionable.

This retrospective, the first since Hofmann’s death, attempts to prove he was a major artist, “the hedonist of Abstract Expressionism, robust and generous,” as Irving Sandler proposes in one of the three essays included in the catalogue accompanying the show (the other contributors are Cynthia Goodman and Clement Greenberg). The exhibition, however, falls dismally short of

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