In the mid-1940s, Hans Hofmann was as famous for his teaching and writings as he was for his painting. If Hofmann never laid a hand to brush, he still would be regarded as one of the most influential people in Twentieth Century art.
At this time, Hofmann was working in a dynamic, color-splashed style that blended the innovations of Cubist space with his highly personal abstract style, which would ultimately pave the way for Abstract Expressionism.
One of the most influential writings by Hofmann, Search for the Real and Other Essays, 1948, is roughly contemporaneous with the present lot, and is excerpted below:
"Art is magic. So say the Surrealists. But how is it magic? In its metaphysical development? Or does some final transformation culminate in a magic reality? In truth, the latter is impossible without the former. If creation is not magic, the outcome cannot be magic. To worship the product and ignore its development leads to dilettantism and reaction. Art cannot result from sophisticated, frivolous, or superficial effects.
The significance of a work of art is determined then by the quality of its growth. This involves forces inherent in the process of development. Although these forces are surreal (that is, their nature is something beyond physical reality), they nevertheless depend on a physical carrier. The physical carrier, commonly painting or sculpture, is the medium of expression of the surreal. Thus, an idea is communicable only when the surreal is converted into material terms. The artist's technical problem is how to transform the material with which he works back into the sphere of the spirit" (H. Hofmann quoted in Search for the Real and Other Essays, Andover, 1948, p. 1).