Hans Hofmann papers, [circa 1904]-2011, bulk 1945-2000

Hofmann, Hans, b. 1880 d. 1966
Active in New York, N.Y.; Provincetown, Mass.

This site provides access to the papers of Hans Hofmann in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2016, and total 25,462 images.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection size: 30.9 linear feet

Collection Summary: The papers of painter, teacher, and writer Hans Hofmann measure 30.9 linear feet and date from circa 1904 to 2011, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1945 to 2000. The majority of the papers were created after 1932 and document Hofmann's life and professional career after settling in the United States. Among his papers are personal and professional correspondence; records of his schools in Munich, New York City, and Provincetown, Massachusetts; writings and notes; photographs; address and appointment books; artifacts; artwork; biographical information; interview transcripts; sales and estate records; and a small number of personal papers of his second wife, Renate Schmitz Hofmann. Hofmann's personal papers are augmented by a large selection of printed matter, including exhibition catalogs, articles, news clippings, and monographs about Hofmann and modern art, as well as documentary projects including Tina Dickey's compilation of oral histories and records of Hofmann's students, and research materials, sound and video recordings, and motion picture film created and gathered by Madeline Amgott during the production of two video documentaries about Hans Hofmann released in 1999 and 2002. Hofmann's Library was acquired with his papers; inscribed/annotated volumes have been retained with the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note: German-born Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), a leading figure of the 20th century art world, was the first painter to be called an Abstract Expressionist.

Renate Schmitz Hofmann, widow of the artist, donated to the Archives of American Art 313 35-mm color slides of work by Hans Hofmann in 1974. The remainder of the collection was a gift of the Estate of Hans Hofmann in 1997. Tina Dickey donated her research material in 2000 and 2001 under the auspices of the Renate, Hans, and Maria Hofmann Trust. In 2006, additional manuscripts, notes, and illustrations for Hofmann's "Das Malerbuch: Form und Farbe in der Gestaltung" were received from the Trust. In 2015, the Trust donated additional correspondence, research and video production materials related to two documentaries on Hans Hofmann by Madeline Amgott. 13.0 linear feet books, exhibition catalogs, and periodicals (376 items) from Hofmann's library, received with the collection, were transferred to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum-National Portrait Gallery Library.

Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this digitized collection
  • The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2016 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include slides and negatives of works of art; duplicates; medical, banking, tax, and estate records; blank pages in bound volumes; blank versos of photographs; exhibition catalogs of other artists; inscribed published books, and sound and moving image materials. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages scanned.
  • Max Spoerri interview: Authorization to quote or reproduce for purposes of publication requires written permission of Max Spoerri.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. The glass plate negative is housed separately and closed to researchers. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Also in the Archives

Related Materials

Monographs and periodicals (376 items) from Hofmann's Library not directly related to the artist were transferred to the Library of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in 2001. The Library retained relevant volumes, dispersed others to appropriate libraries within the Smithsonian Institution, and made final decisions regarding disposition of any remaining items.
The holdings of the Archives of American Art include papers and oral history interviews of many former students and friends of Hofmann; among these collections are correspondence, photographs, reminiscences, writings, and printed items relating to Hofmann and his school. The Lillian Kiesler Papers, 1920s-1990s include records of the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. Researchers are advised to conduct a name search in the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS).
Other Hans Hofmann Papers, 1929-1976 (1.65 linear ft.) are owned by The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (Collection number: BANC MSS 80/27 c). An inventory is available on The Bancroft Library's website at http//www.lib.berkeley.edu/BANC/