In 1958, Hofmann retired from his career as a teacher and, for the remaining eight years of his life, devoted himself exclusively to his own painting. Conjuntis Viribus broadcasts arresting vibrancy as the starkly geometric luminous green plane intersects in energized cubist style with freer swathes of painterly exuberance. As such, it solidifies its place as an ideal example of the artist’s late paintings, which are defined by a spectacular outburst of dynamism partially contained within architectonic compartments. Irving Sandler had suggested that “Hofmann may have derived the idea of using rectangles in his painting from one of his teaching techniques: attaching pieces of construction paper to the canvases of his students.” (Irving Sandler, The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism, New York, 1970, p. 147, note 5) In the present work Hofmann has abandoned illusionistic space and representational imagery entirely in favor of dramatic graphic arrangement and ebullient color, as the implied architecture of forms vies with the flurried brushwork of the multi-faceted ground.
Against a ground of gloriously glowing red, Hofmann encouraged darker passages to emerge, punctuated at critical intervals by scintillating chromatic accents. The result is a composition of unparalleled dynamism, arresting power, and alluring seduction, as shockingly intense today as it surely was half a century ago. In the same year as this work’s execution Hofmann stated that "push and pull is a colloquial expression applied for movement experienced in nature or created on the picture surface to detect the counterplay of movement in and out of depth. Depth perception in nature and depth creation on the picture-surface is the crucial problem in pictorial creation." ("The Painter and His Problems: A Manual Dedicated to Painting" in Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (and travelling), Hans Hofmann, 1990, p. 177)
Conjuntis Viribus is an elegant and refined pictorial summation of the economies of color and form that typifyed Hofmann’s practice. Conflating a reductive sensibility for outline and shape together with the apparently arbitrary process of action painting, this superb painting is a celebration of color as the foundation of visual communication. This sophisticated re-ordering of primary and secondary hues comprises a complex essay on color-theory and the optical and psychic effects of the chromatic palette. Moreover, Hofmann used both heavy impasto and thin brushstrokes to create an ethereal richness that leaves his working methods visible, imbuing his canvas with the intimate expressions of his creative process. Near the end of his prolific life, Hofmann delivered the summation of his vision with Conjuntis Viribus, drawing together the sum of his extraordinary experience into a canvas of alluring vitality.
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