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Apr. 1 Art Minute: Hans Hofmann, Night Spell

Everything is Rhythm, Toledo Museum of Art
Hans Hofmann (American, 1880-1966), Night Spell, 1965, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 in. (182.9 x 152.4 cm), Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, Ohio), Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1970.50

"My aim in painting is to create pulsating, luminous, and open surfaces that emanate a mystic light, in accordance with my deepest insight into the experience of life and nature."

In Night Spell large areas of color push and pull, demonstrating Hans Hofmann’s belief that the advancing and receding values of colors, as well as their relative gloss, size, texture, and placement, can enliven the space of a painting without depicting recognizable objects. While the canvas has been worked overall with spots of color and expressive strokes of paint, the four rectangles dominate the composition. The two reds vibrate against each other, barely balanced by the large cool purple shape on the left. Completing the composition is the bright green block that anchors the painting. 

After coming to the United States in the 1930s to escape Nazi oppression, the German-born Hofmann earned a reputation as a legendary teacher and played a decisive role in the development of Abstract Expressionism.

This work will be on display in the upcoming exhibition "Everything is Rhythm": Mid-Century Art and Musicopening on April 6.