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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN CORPORATE COLLECTION

Hans Hofmann
MOONSHINE SONATA
Estimate
1,800,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 3,492,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
40

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN CORPORATE COLLECTION

Hans Hofmann
MOONSHINE SONATA
Estimate
1,800,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 3,492,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Hans Hofmann
1880 - 1966
MOONSHINE SONATA
signed and dated 61; signed, titled, dated 1961 and inscribed Cat. #1309 on the reverse
oil on canvas
78 by 84 3/8 in. 198.1 by 214.3 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Estate of the Artist (Estate no. M-013-C)
André Emmerich Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in 1968)
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1968)
André Emmerich Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in 1972)
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1972)
Acquired by the present owner as of 1990

Exhibited

New York, Kootz Gallery, Hans Hofmann: New Paintings, January 1962
Sarasota, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Artists of the Kootz Gallery, April - May 1962, n.p., no. 7, illustrated
New York, Museum of Modern Art; Waltham, Brandeis University, The Rose Art Museum; New Orleans, Isaac Delgado Museum of Art; Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Berkeley, University of California, University Art Gallery; Washington, D.C., Washington Gallery of Modern Art; Buenos Aires, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires; Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna; Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein; Hamburg, Kunstverein in Hamburg (Amerika Haus); and Bielefeld, Städtisches Kunsthaus, Hans Hofmann, September 1963 - October 1965, p. 52, no. 25, illustrated (1963 English edition), n.p., no. 22, illustrated (1965 Dutch and German editions) and n.p., no. 22, illustrated in color (1965 Italian edition)
New York, André Emmerich Gallery, Hans Hofmann, January 1968, n.p., illustrated in color
Chicago, Richard Gray Gallery, Hans Hofmann: Paintings, January - March 1968, n.p., illustrated in color
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Miami, Center for the Fine Arts; and Norfolk, The Chrysler Museum of Art, Hans Hofmann, June 1990 - April 1991, p. 73, no. 63, illustrated in color and p. 72 (text)

Literature

Brian O'Doherty, "Profound Changes: Hofmann Display at Kootz Shows He Has Cast His Work into Melting Pot Again," The New York Times, January 4, 1962, p. 27 (text) 
Vivien Raynor, "In the Galleries: Hans Hofmann," Arts Magazine 36, February 1962, p. 39 (text)
W.C. Burnett, "Ringling Painting Exhibit Has Variety," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 8, 1962, p. 10 (text)
Sam Hunter, Hans Hofmann, New York, 1963, no. 163, illustrated in color 
Brian O'Doherty, "Hans Hofmann: A Style of Old Age," The New York Times, September 15, 1963, p. 23, illustrated (in installation at the Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Harold Rosenberg, "The Art Galleries: Hans Hofmann and the Stability of the New," The New Yorker 39, No. 57, November 2, 1963, p. 100 (text)
Harold Rosenberg, The Anxious Object: Art Today and Its Audience, New York, 1964, p. 248 (text), p. 248 (text) (1966 Edition) and p. 203 (text) (1969 Edition)
Rae Perlin, "Hans Hofmann - Painter and Teacher," Daily News (St. John's, Newfoundland), January 12, 1965, p. 10, illustrated
James Fitzsimmons, "Hans Hofmann," Arts Magazine 42, No. 3, December 1967/January 1968, p. 57 (text)
Charlotte Willard, "In the Art Galleries: The Color Question," New York Post Sunday Magazine, January 20, 1968, p. 14 (text)
John Ashbery, "Reviews and Previews," ARTnews 66, No. 10, February 1968, p. 13 (text)
Edward Barry, "City Gets Look at Hofmann," Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1968, p. B1, illustrated in color
Franz Schulze, "Bigger Is More and Vice-Versa in Today's Art," Chicago Daily News, February 17, 1968, p. 7 (text)
Walter Darby Bannard, "Hofmann's Rectangles," Artforum 7, No. 10, Summer 1969, p. 41 (text)
Robert Peter Miller, "Some Thoughts on Hans Hofmann," Mulch 3, No. 2, Winter - Spring 1975, p. 26 (text)
"Inspired Teacher," MD Medical News Magazine 22, No. 11, November 1978, p. 133, illustrated
Gwen Kinkead, "The Spectacular Fall and Rise of Hans Hofmann," ARTnews 79, No. 6, Summer 1980, pp. 94-95 (text)
Helen L. Kohen, "Hofmann: Teacher of Geniuses," Miami Herald, November 18, 1990, p. 5I (text)
James Yohe, Ed., Hans Hofmann, New York, 2002, p. 254, illustrated in color 
Jed Perl, New Art City, New York, 2005, p. 6 (text)
Suzi Villiger, Ed., Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Volume III: 1952-1965, London, 2014, p. 309, cat. no. P1331, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

“Form only exists through color and color only exists through form.” (Hans Hofmann, “Creation in Form and Color: A Textbook for Instruction in Art,” 1931)

“When I start to paint – I want to forget all I know about painting. …What I would hate most is to repeat myself over and over again – to develop a false style.” (Hans Hofmann, “Notes on Art and Pictorial Function of Colors, 1 April 1950,” in Hans Hofmann Papers, circa 1904-1978, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.)

Bursting with an irrepressible vitality of peerless exploration that is the hallmark of Hans Hofmann’s corpus, Moonshine Sonata is wholly demonstrative of an artist at the absolute apex of his painterly energies. Executed in 1961, when he was eighty-one years old, the present work broadcasts a bristling and energetic verve that so perfectly captures the quintessence of the artist’s insatiable pursuit of experimentation. With an illustrious exhibition history that bespeaks its central importance and a rich surface that announces Hofmann as both a pioneering colorist and preeminent abstractionist, Moonshine Sonata subsumes us within its mesmerizing composition. Despite being a generation older than many of his peers, Hofmann bridged the gap between the School of Paris – dominated by artists such as Sonia Delaunay and Raoul Dufy – and the Abstract Expressionist movement in New York with energetic innovation. This magnificent painting definitively embodies the critical link between tradition and the avant-garde that characterizes the very best of Hofmann’s art. Across the brilliant surface of Moonshine Sonata Hofmann staged a symphonic union of color and form through the sheer exuberance of his quintessential gestural vocabulary. The stunning result precisely describes the enduring influence of the artist’s oeuvre and exists today as a simply outstanding archetype of his output.

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. Moonshine Sonata transmits arresting vibrancy as the explosive bursts of luminous orange, the magnificent consequence of pure painterly force, punctuate a sea of deeper blues and greens all set against a dazzling white ground. Hofmann’s late paintings are often described by spectacular outpourings of unfettered dynamism partially contained within architectonic compartments; in Moonshine Sonata the geometric organization of space appears looser, more fluid and lyrical, and the entire composition confronts us with an overpowering sensation of unadulterated freedom. In its utterly unique compositional quality, the present work is inherently paradigmatic of Hofmann at his very best: “Hofmann’s avowed desire to approach each canvas as if it were his first – without the benefit or hindrance of prior experience or knowledge – speaks to the artist’s lifelong commitment to experimentation.” (Marcelle Polednik, “In Search of Equipoise: Hofmann’s Artistic Negotiations, 1940-1958” in Suzi Villiger, Ed., Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Volume I: Essays and References, London, 2014, p. 34) In the present work Hofmann has abandoned illusionistic space and representational imagery entirely in favor of a dramatic graphic arrangement that allows his flurried brushwork to dance across the multi-faceted ground in a deluge of ebullient color.

Moonshine Sonata 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. The artist’s sophisticated re-ordering of primary and secondary hues, create a complex essay on color-theory and optical and psychic effect 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 Moonshine Sonata, drawing together the sum of his extraordinary experience into a canvas of alluring vitality.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York