Hans Hofmann Paints a Picture

Hans Hofmann, Fruit Bowl Version 6, 1950, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (collect
Hans Hofmann, Fruit Bowl Version 6, 1950, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (collection Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, gift of Roy R. Neuberger / Photo: Jim Frank)

Another entry in the seminal Paints a Picture series: Elaine de Kooning provides a first hand account of Hans Hofmann's process and approach to painting.

In a richly detailed narration, De Kooning records Hofmann's technical studio practice punctuated by his comments on painting: "Hofmann has evolved no rules for the making of a picture. On the contrary, always on guard against intellectualism and virtuosity, he says: 'At the time of making a picture, I want not to know what I’m doing; a picture should be made with feeling, not with knowing. The possibilities of the medium must be sensed. Anything can serve as a medium—kerosene, benzine, turpentine, linseed oil, beeswax…even beer,' he adds jokingly. ...'Painting, to me means forming with color,' Hofmann states. His first stroke of color is very important since it may be visible in the final version of the picture, and so, for Fruit Bowl, No. 1, Hofmann spent considerable time studying the still-life before picking up his brush... 'A work of art is finished from the point of view of the artist,' says Hofmann, 'when feeling and perception have resulted in a spiritual synthesis.' "