Hans Hofmann (German, 1880-1966) Taurus, 1946 oil on panel, 38 1/2 x 48 1/2 in.
Hans Hofmann was born in Weissenburg, Bavaria in 1880. At the age of six, Hofmann and his family moved to Munich, and he began to study painting at Moritz Heymann’s art school. He then studied for ten years in Paris, where he met influential contemporary painters such as Matisse and Picasso. During the First World War, Hofmann opened the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Munich. As Nazi oppression grew during the early 1930s, Hofmann fled to New York City, where he opened the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Manhattan in 1934, and in 1935 heintroduced the famed summer outpost of his school in Provincetown, MA. Hofmann’s impressive roster of students included many artists who would go on to achieve great recognition, such as Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Wolf Kahn, Lee Krasner, Carl Holty, Louise Nevelson, Robert De Niro Sr., and Frank Stella.
Along with his notability as an influential teacher, Hofmann soon came to be recognized as a leading figure in the American Abstract Expressionistmovement. In 1944, Hofmann’s first major exhibition in New York was organized by Peggy Guggenheim and held at the Art of This CenturyGallery, followed in 1947 by an exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts organized by Betty Parsons. In 1957, the Whitney Museum of American Art hosted a major retrospective of Hofmann’s work which travelled to seven additional US Museums over the next year. During his lifetime, his work was exhibited and acquired by notable collectors and museums including the Addison Gallery of American Artin Andover, Massachusetts, Musée de Grenoble in France, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, and the Museum of Modern Art. Hofmann’s workis now represented in the permanent collections of major museums world-wide.
In 1946, the year that Hofmann created Taurus, the noted American art critic, Robert Coates, first coined the term “abstract expressionism”, referring to Hofmann’s work as such in his review of an exhibit at the Mortimer Brant Gallery in New York. Taurus is an excellent example of Hofmann’s works from that period, showing “push and pull”, a term Hofmann often used in his writings on art theory to describe the “play between color, shape, and placement on a surface to create competing forces that produce depth within a flat surface.”
Jim Rennert (American, b. 1958) Daily Grind bronze and steel, 14 x 29 x 10 in.
When one encounters a sculpture by Jim Rennert, it is hard not to relate his work to one’s own personal experience, or find humor in his pieces which represent the competitive nature of business and contemporary life. Rennert’s body of work stems from the concept that “business has become for many the sport of a lifetime”. His signature works portray an anonymous suited-man with unidentifiable facial features, often combined with hard lined forms of bronze and steel representing a challenge that the man must overcome. The anonymous figures accompanied by intuitive and clever titles help guide the viewer in reflecting on their own similar experiences. Rennert hopes that viewers will see his works in an optimistic and hopeful light, rather than through a disheartening lens. Rennert states, “I think people are still struggling and dealing with making a living and all of the challenges that it entails. Work is a big part of all of our lives. I find a lot of inspiration in seeing the innovation, tenacity and success that people are experiencing.”
Rennert’s, Daily Grind (2016), is the embodiment of the physical and mental struggles that people face on a daily basis in business. In this particular piece, Rennert displays two suited-men back to back with their arms locked in a grueling physical tussle, with no end in sight to their exertion. The title of the work, Daily Grind, emphasizes the struggles with one’s self to compete and perform day after day. This work draws on Rennert’s earlier sculptures, where he incorporated the action derived from sports to parallel with themes of business.
Rennert’s work is regularly exhibited at the major art fairs throughout the US, as well as represented in galleries, and private and public collections worldwide. In 2014-2015 Rennert was honored with a public exhibition in New York City of his monumental sculpture, THINK BIG, which was displayed in Union Square in cooperation with the NYC Parks Department.
Maarten Platje (Dutch, b. 1967) The Annie Johnson at Boston Light, 2016 oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 35 3/8 in.
Maarten Platje was born in 1967 and raised in the famous port city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where he still lives and works today. Platje studied at the Ars Aemula Naturae Art Academy in Leiden where he was able to hone his technical skills as a draftsman and painter. Prior to his artistic studies, Platje spent much of his youth as a sailor, a period that certainly contributed to his ability to transform his impressions and observations into highly accurate and lively marine paintings later in life. In 1996 Platje was invited by the Royal Dutch Navy to embark on a frigate during NATO operations in the Mediterranean waters around the former Yugoslavia. During this voyage, he followed in the steps of the famous Dutch marine painter Willem van de Velde (1611-1693), the official artist for the Dutch Fleet in his time. This resulted in a series of paintings illustrating various naval operations which are now on a permanent display at the Naval Museum in Den Helder and at the Museum of the Marine Corps of the Royal Netherlands Navy in Rotterdam. Platje’s current body of work focuses on accurate recreations of historically important ships and regatta’s from the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Platje achieves remarkable detail in his painting, The Annie Johnson at Boston Light (2016), with his signature style of capturing the light reflected off the waves combined with dramatic, almost haunting, shadows in their natural conditions. It is apparent that he possesses an unparalleled ability in portraying the atmospheric interplay between sky, sea, and shore. The painting depicts the iron barque Annie Johnson passing Boston Light on Little Brewster Island (Massachusetts). In 1872, R. Williamson at Harrington built Ada Iredale, which would become the Annie Johnson. Her history was a tumultuous one—a fire resulted in her being abandoned by her crew, and the Ada Iredlae drifted westward for eight months before being taken in tow by a French cruiser and taken to Papeete, Tahiti, with her cargo still smoldering. She was sold to American owners in 1878, the fire having stayed alight in her hull until May of that year.
The Ada Iredale was rebuilt and rechristened the Annie Johnson; triumphantly sailing out of San Francisco. She had a diesel engine fitted in 1923 and would serve for four years as a merchant ship before moving to her next life as the French Ship, Bretagne. The present painting shows the fully-riggedAnnie Johnson in her heyday passing one of the most famous monuments in the rich history of American shipping: Boston Light. Boston Light is a lighthouse located in outer Boston Harbor. The first lighthouse built on the site dates back to 1716—the first lighthouse ever built in what is now the United States. The current lighthouse dates from 1783 and is the second-oldest working lighthouse in the United States after New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Lighthouse. Boston Light received National History Landmark status in 1964.