Lot 50
  • 50

Hans Hofmann

1,200,000 - 1,600,000 USD
2,057,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Hans Hofmann
  • Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Nightly Love Song)
  • signed, titled and dated 1964 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Kootz Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1966

Catalogue Note

Continuity of color development is achieved through successful, successive developments of the color scales.  These are comparable to the tone scales in music. ... Each color scale follows again a rhythm entirely of its own...  Any color shade within one color shade can become, at any moment, the bridge to any other color-scale.  This leads to an interwoven communion of color scales over the entire picture surface.
- Hans Hofmann, "The Color Problem in Pure Painting - Its Creative Origin"


Painted during an exuberant outburst of creative genius in the twilight of the artist's life, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1964, is an outstanding example of Hans Hofmann's major developments with his Push Pull theory, using rectangular blocks of color to inform spatial organization and create a bold symphony of color.  In Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the distinct rectangles of blue and green separate themselves from the thick impasto of the vibrant red ground, creating a pulsing sensation of movement and energy, breaking the 'negative' space into geometric slabs themselves.  The architectonic rectangles contrast with the economic, yet powerful use, of the yellow pigment, its amorphous forms in bold contrast to the planar blocks of blue and red.  Hofmann's acute sense of harmony and proportion allows the pure, bold colors to co-exist within the picture plane without overwhelming the viewer, a delicate balancing act of breaking apart the color blocks, creating bridges which tie the forms together.  The `push and pull' of the slabs resonates in the highly dynamic surface, further amplified by the furiously expressive brushwork.

The title refers to Mozart's 1787 piece, also known as Serenade for Strings in G Major, composed for a small chamber ensemble.  Hofmann's titles often recalled famous musical works for he claimed that he wished "to form and paint as Schubert sings and as Beethoven creates a world in sound". (Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Hans Hofmann: Late Paintings, 1988, p. 12).