Hofmann's abstractions were based on a careful definition of pictorial space. In what has become perhaps his most famous dictum, Hofmann remarked, "Depth, in a pictorial, plastic sense, is not created by the arrangement of objects one after another toward a vanishing point, in the sense of Renaissance perspective, but on the contrary...by the creation of forces in the sense of push and pull" (quoted in S. Hunter, Hans Hofmann, New York, 1963, p. 14).
The principal spatial organizer of his late compositions was the rectangle. Following Braque's example, Hofmann employed a method of preparing his paintings using rectangles of color pinned to the canvas to judge the success of his attempts to organize planes and color relations. Clement Greenberg wrote of the works of this period, "The very fact it teeters on the edge of a kind of art like Mondrian is one of the things that gives it its climactic quality...that sums up the realizations of a whole epic of modernist art, and at the same time points toward the next one" (C. Greenberg, Hofmann, Paris, 1961, p. 38).
In the present work, solid blocks of heavily impastoed color are weighed against lyrical strokes, and delicately soaked and brushed areas create a complex symphonic relationship. "Just as two musical sounds, heard simultaneously, create the phenomenon of a third, fourth or fifth. The nature of this higher third is non-physical. In a sense it is magic" (H. Hofmann, "The Search for the Real in the Visual Arts," quoted in S. Hunter, op. cit., p. 39).
In Autumn Chill and Sun, as in his most of his late works, the geometric ordering is subverted not only by the brilliant color of the painting, but also by the extraordinary freedom with which the paintings are executed. There is a delight in the physical act of painting which has an unequaled immediacy.
Hofmann had written in 1962 of the importance of the act of painting: "I am often asked how I approach my work. Let me confess: I hold my mind and my work free from any association foreign to the act of painting. I am thoroughly inspired and agitated by the actions themselves which the development of painting continuously requires... This seems simple but it is actually the fruit of long research" (H. Hofmann, "Hans Hofmann on Art," Art Journal, no. 22, spring 1963, p. 18).