"We understand the 'vacancies' given us by nature -the unfulfilled space- as well as the objects to be actual volumes. So, out of a feeling of depth, a sense of movement develops itself. There are movements that swing into the depths of space, and there are movements that swing back out of the depths of space. Every movement in space releases a countermovement in space. Movement comes into the appearance primarily by means of a countermovement. Movement and countermovement produce tension, and tension produces rhythm. Tension is always the expression of a ratio of situation, or circumstance, of forces. Rhythm is the living swing in the unity of plastic totality" (H. Hofmann quoted in J. Yohe, ed., Hans Hofmann, New York, 2002, pp. 43-44).
Awakening of Spring is from a seminal body of works executed by Hans Hofmann in the first half of the 1950s. "The paintings of the early and middle 1950s in which the painted surfaces were built up in assertive texture and relief are surely among Hofmann's most original and powerful works" (S. Hunter, Hans Hofmann, New York, 1963, p. 29). Hofmann lived in Paris from 1904-1914 during the heady years of Modernism and its influence can be seen in the riotous Fauve palettte of Awakening of Spring. Unlike his American students who learned about the avant-garde mostly through reproductions, Hofmann knew Picasso personally and sketched alongside Matisse, both formative experiences that would inform his entire ouevre.
From the title, Awakening of Spring, the viewer understands the subject of the abstract painting to be the change of seasons, and the vibrant renewal of life which comes with Spring. It is also an abstract interpretation of the forces that Hofmann defines: rhythms produced by motion and countermotion as defined by the artist's thickly loaded paintbrush and his sweeping gestures. Hofmann anchors his composition with a powerful centralfugal force of vibrant green, yellow and white strokes and forms. Thick areas of red and blue balance the swirls. Hofmann's layering of colors and impasto flattens the surface, preventing a clear definition between fore, middle and background. Instead, the composition grows wildly, organically.
Despite Hofmann's importance to abstraction, he never completely abandoned subject matter; interiors and landscapes were often his inspiration. Hofmann's real subject is the interplay of color, light and space with the goal of distilling the spiritual essence of the thing depicted. Awakening of Spring is a painterly tour-de-force, full of thick impasto, passionate color and explosive brushwork that rivals the best work of 1950s Abstract Expressionism.