Hans Hofmann left not only a body of groundbreaking paintings, but also a legacy of students who became great Abstract Expressionist artists. The German-born artist was as prolific a teacher as he was a studio artist. He taught briefly at University of California, Berkeley; Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles; and the Art Students League of New York before starting the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art in New York and Provincetown. His obsession with structure, spatial illusion, and color relationships surfaces throughout his work — as well as in the work of his most successful students.
The Hans Hofmann School features work by four of the artist’s students: Michael Loew, Michael Goldberg, John Little, and Michael Corrine West. Each has a distinctive style that traces unmistakably to the master.
Michael Loew (1907-1985) painted murals as a Works Progress Administration artist before studying with Hans Hofmann in New York and Provincetown, and later with Fernand Léger in Paris. He became known for his paintings based on the geometry and syntax of Neo-Plasticism.
Michael Goldberg (1924-2007) is known as a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, although he exhibited his work in 1950s with Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, and others from the New York School. His style vacillated over the years, ranging from minimal to dynamic gestural canvases.
John Little (1907-1984) was a textile designer in New York before studying with Hofmann, who led the younger artist to abstraction and affected his views of color theory. After serving in the Navy as an aerial photographer, he moved into Hofmann’s studio (Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were neighbors) and his exploration into AbEx painting continued in earnest.
Michael Corinne West (1908-1991), born Corinne Michelle West, took a man’s name to get attention in the male-dominated realm of Abstract Expressionist painters. She took her first Hofmann class at the Art Students League and created hundreds of paintings between the 1940s and ’80s. Her work bursts with energy and color, and has been exhibited alongside Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Robert Motherwell.