From Germany to California, Hohmann Looks Back on 40 Years in Fine Art

Nov 16, 2016 1:18AM

You might not guess it when you step inside Hohmann’s state-of-the-art showroom in Palm Desert, California, but the gallery got started many years—and many time zones—away. Forty years ago, to be precise, and in northern Germany.

The gallery has been through several phases since those early days, when collectors Werner and Ursula Hohmann opened a small space to show the work of local artists. The original Galerie Hohmann started expanding into Hamburg, then Berlin, attracting artists and collectors from all over Germany. Meanwhile, the American side of the family ventured into the business in Carmel, Chicago, and Palm Desert. Now, in the heart of Palm Desert’s El Paseo gallery district, Hohmann has one central location. It’s here the family is celebrating four decades of fostering the fine arts with a special anniversary exhibition.

At the helm is Christian Hohmann, German-born son of the original founders. He has been in the picture since the very beginning, though he was just two years old when his parents opened their first space, in 1976. After studying art history and economics, today he says longevity and education are equally important to the gallery’s reputation.

“Since anybody can open a gallery or use the title ‘artist’ without any formal training,” Hohmann has said, “my family feels that it is most important to do a lot of research and due diligence so that our collectors can relax and choose what speaks to them, knowing that several experts have studied and approved the art we display.”

A sense of place continues to be a key value, too, even if that place is far away, both geographically and culturally, from the gallery’s origins. The Hohmanns may have built their business around exhibiting the work of regional artists in Germany, but now, in the next generation, Christian Hohmann takes the concept one step further, designing interactive events that are meant to bring artists and collectors even closer together.

In 2010, for instance, the LA-based painter Neil Nagy was invited to reconstruct his artist’s studio in the Hohmann showroom, where he created a large-scale painting in front of a live audience. On another occasion, the sculptor JD Hansen worked on a new piece at the gallery while discussing her inspirations with onlookers. Those are just two of the dozens of artists whose work is on display for the gallery’s 40th anniversary.

The celebration may be a long way from Germany, 1976, but in some ways—a commitment to local talent, the cultivation of deeper connections between artist and viewer—Hohmann feels like it hasn’t moved an inch.

—Bridget Gleeson

Hohmann’s 40th anniversary exhibition is on view in Palm Desert, California, Nov. 1–Dec. 31, 2016.

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