The German-born American painter Hans Hofmann is one of the first artists to have emerged from the artistic tidal wave now known as Abstract Expressionism. Over the course of his long career, Hofmann was highly prolific, and he is also remembered for the contributions that he made as an art teacher both in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts. Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Larry Rivers are a handful among hundreds of artists who thrived under his influence and tutelage. Hofmann’s earliest abstractions date to the early 1930s, a time when artists like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock were still painting in representational and figurative styles.
Up the Dune by Hans Hofmann is a multicolor abstraction from 1940 ranging in hue from fiery yellows and reds to luscious shades of green and blue. Hofmann’s brushstrokes imply a sense of upward movement and turbulence within the work that call to mind the upswept stormy skies found in J.M.W. Turner’s seascapes. With its meandering composition punctuated with abstract linear forms, Hofmann conjures up a landscape that is anything but serene; yet, it is through this abstract perspective that the chaotic forces of nature become truly manifest.