UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Receives Grant To Conserve Hans Hofmann Collection

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is the recipient of a $93,825 award from the federal grant program Save America’s Treasures to conserve the museum’s remarkable collection of paintings by German-born artist Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), one of the most significant figures in the development of Abstract Expressionism. The grant supports essential conservation work on forty-eight paintings to resolve threats ranging from accumulated dust and debris to paint loss and instability, discoloration, and abrasions. Conservation work will take place over two years in collaboration with conservators at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Plans are currently under way for future exhibitions and a possible international tour following completion of the conservation project in 2013.

A gift from the artist to UC Berkeley—Hofmann taught at Berkeley and across the U.S. after emigrating from Germany in 1930—BAM/PFA’s Hofmann collection remains the largest in any museum. While his work is significant, Hofmann’s influence extends beyond the canvas: his collection together with a $250,000 gift to UC Berkeley enabled the museum’s founding in 1963. As a beloved teacher, Hofmann’s ideas shaped the perceptions of hundreds of art students, many of whom went on to attain international stature including Helen Frankenthaler, Red Grooms, Alfred Jensen, Wolf Kahn, Lee Krasner, Louise Nevelson, and Frank Stella.

As the steward of this extraordinary resource, BAM/PFA is committed to ensuring the collection’s care and survival, to furthering scholarship on Hofmann’s work, and to making the paintings accessible for future generations. After a 1999 survey, a number of paintings were treated in preparation for a national tour of the Hofmann collection (the exhibition traveled to the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum in Texas, the Des Moines Art Center, the Akron Art Museum, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art between 2002 and 2004). Over the past twenty years, BAM/PFA’s ongoing care and treatment of the paintings has been in partnership with the SFMOMA conservation lab, and has been supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the J. Paul Getty Trust; and the Renate, Hans, and Maria Hofmann Trust.

Among the first works to go to SFMOMA’s conservation lab is Sanctum Sanctorum (1962). This painting shows all the exuberance, confidence, and striking scale of Hofmann’s late signature works, in which the artist employed contrasts of color and arrangements of shapes as expanding and contracting forces to make the viewer experience space and color. Hofmann stated, “In nature light creates color. In painting color creates light.”

A selection of Hofmann’s work is on view in Nature into Action: Hans Hofmann through July 3, 2011. This installation reveals the relationship between nature as source and action as method in the great abstract painter’s work.

For a complete biography of Hans Hofmann, please visit hanshofmann.org.

About Save America’s Treasures
One of the largest funders of historic preservation projects in the country, Save America’s Treasures—a public-private partnership that includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation and several federal agencies—supports conservation and preservation of nationally significant historic buildings and sites, and culturally and intellectually important collections, documents, and artworks.

Keeping the Country’s History Alive: Established in 1998, the program has awarded more than $300 million to support 1, 287 projects in every state. The grants, which require a 1:1 match in private money, have leveraged nearly $400 million in additional funding and the work they have supported has created more than 16,000 jobs. Projects include conservation and preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner, the architectural model for the World Trade Center, the Rosa Parks bus, Honanki Heritage Site cliff dwellings, and the homes of such historical figures as Harriet Tubman, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton.

Slated for Elimination: Though the program is responsible for saving objects and places that help tell the nation’s story, Save America’s Treasures is now on the chopping block, zeroed out of the proposed 2012 federal budget under the proposed Spending Reduction Act of 2011. Save America’s Treasures and other cultural agencies proposed for reduction or elimination are working hard to make the case for continued funding, to ensue the survival of precious places and artifacts that tangibly illustrate the history of the United States.

Image: Hans Hofmann, Morning Mist, 1958; oil on canvas; 55 1/8 x 40 3/8 in.; gift of Hans Hofmann

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley, the nation’s leading public research university. One of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance, BAM/PFA aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the UC Berkeley campus, the Bay Area, and beyond. Each year BAM/PFA presents fifteen art exhibitions, 380 film programs, and dozens of performances, as well as lectures, symposia, and tours. The museum’s collection of more than 30,000 works ranges from Neolithic Chinese pottery to contemporary video art. Among the collection’s exceptional strengths are Ming and Qing dynasty Chinese painting, Italian Baroque painting, Old Master works on paper, early American painting, mid-twentieth-century abstract painting—including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, and Mark Rothko—Japanese cinema, Soviet silent film, West Coast avant-garde video and film, animation, and international classic films.

University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.

Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; fax (510) 642-4889; TDD (510) 642-8734.


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