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Greenwich's Bruce Museum Awash In Color With Murals Of Hans Hofmann

Kenneth Silver, New York University Professor of Modern Art and Adjunct Curator of Art at the Bruce Museum, talks Friday about the works of Hans Hofmann on display at the Bruce Museum. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Bruce Museum Executive Director Peter Sutton passes by three of Hans Hofmann's works on display at the Bruce Museum. He was participating in a lecture on the artist and his works. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
The works of famous Abstract Expressionist painter, teacher and theorist Hans Hofmann are on display at the Bruce Museum. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

GREENWICH, Conn. -- The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is awash in color as it hosts a show of the works of a painter and art theorist who once famously proclaimed, "Any line placed on the canvas is already the fifth."

The exhibit, called "Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann," is on exhibit starting Saturday, May 2, through Sept. 6.

Hofmann was a German-American painter and an important teacher and theorist of the Abstract Expressionism movement, according to Kenneth Silver, a New York University professor of modern art and an adjunct curator of art at the Bruce Museum.

During a tour of the show led by Silver on Friday, he explained that Hofmann said a canvas already has four lines - the four sides of the canvas. As soon as an artist applies the first stroke on the canvas, that creates the fifth line.

Hofmann, born in Germany in 1880, moved to American in 1932, two years after he had first set foot in the country to teach one summer at the University of California at Berkeley. Well-known as a teacher in Germany, Hofmann mixed with other famous artists in the early 20th century, including Pablo Picasso, who he had met in Paris before World War I.

"He becomes the most famous modern art teacher in America, really of abstract art, essentially," Silver said.

The show is the first ever to focus on his public mural projects.

"Essentially, what Hofmann does is to make comprehensible, or fairly legible, essential abstract notions of how abstract pictures are built," Silver said. "He says that it, in fact, a combination of color and line that take the place of traditional perspective. You can create depth and tension and excitement in a painting simply by means of color and line."

The show's centerpiece are nine oil studies by Hofmann that are each 7 feet tall. They were created for the planned but never realized redesign of the Peruvian city of Chimbote.

Hofmann died in 1966 in New York City.

The show is supported financially by the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust, which provided two grants totaling more than $250,000 to the Bruce Museum.

The Bruce Museum is located at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich. For hours and cost of admission, visit the museum's website or call 203-869-0376.

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