Today I read a wonderful review by Roberta Smith in the New York Times on a Hans Hofmann show at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich Conn. When I arrived to live in Provincetown in 1957 I heard of his school. I was surviving on a few dollars I had saved and becoming a student was out of the question. I did become friends with some of his students like Red Grooms ,Bob Beauchamp. Bob Thompson. I would go to the school to see them and often sat in on critiques. The one things I understood clearly was his theory of ” Push and pull” It seemed so clear to me but puzzled many of the students. Somehow I do not feel he has gotten the attention and credit that he deserves. Roberta Smith clears much of this up in her review. He has been thought of as an all over the place painter. People like art that conforms to a certain style and I think someone like Hoffman confuses them . This is not the artists fault it is more the fault of the viewer. It is understandable as it makes them feel they have to continually catch up. I mentioned format painting in my last blog. It can become boring to know what an artist is going to serve up. Hofmann undermines that and surprises one with different approaches. I learned much from him via his students and his work.
Hoffman seldom came to openings in Provincetown. But one time when I had a gallery, The Sun gallery, he came to my defense over a show that had been deemed pornographic by the police. The police said if I did not close the gallery I would be arrested. I opened regardless, and half the art community turned out in my defense as it was far from pornographic. It was a series of mono prints of the Three Graces, the police had said “Any with pubic hair were pornographic” All my supporters stood out on the street. Not long after I opened, waiting for the police to march through the door at any moment, I was surprised, Hofmann walked through the door instead. He looked at the work then turned to me and asked for a piece of paper. I handed him a piece of mate board and and he wrote a declaration of innocence stating how the nude was represented in all the major museums throughout Europe and the US. He left and everyone poured into the gallery and signed it. So I have a lot to be grateful for to Hans Hofmann. He saved my arse from jail, as the police backed off after that, and he pointed me in the right direction art wise and not to be afraid of different approaches to art.