Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1945 Douglas Hofmann attended grade school through high school in his hometown. After high school he enrolled in a business college in Baltimore only to leave after a month questioning his career choice. He started to work at a local department store as a window trimmer where, Hofmann says, he learned about color design. His coworkers became mentors, one of them being married to a well known Baltimore sculptor Thomas Hoffmaster. His appreciation for art grew and already being very gifted, Hofmann decided to attempt to make a career for himself in art field.
He enrolled in the local art college, the Maryland Institute College of Art. During the first year he discovered Joseph Sheppard. "I used to walk down to the first floor and stick my head in this room that was totally quiet. You could hear a pin drop. It was Joe Sheppard's class". He began studying with Joe. Anatomy classes and drawing and painting from the model were new to Hofmann and he became immersed in the study. "Sheppard could paint like nothing I lad ever seen" Hofmann says. "God for Sheppard was Rubens and I became a disciple too. Studying with Sheppard was a perfect opportunity to learn about drawing, modeling and Maroger technique". Hofmann had discovered the Maroger method, a method enabling the artist to use thin layers of paint and techniques similar to those of the Old Masters. With this interest in the Old Masters Hofmann began to develop his individual taste. Vermeer's interiors with figures became one of his favorites.
After graduating from the Maryland Institute Hofmann was offered the option of being represented by Manuel Baker of the International Fine Art Gallery in Washington, D.C. It shows selling everything he could complete. Trying to emulate his herom Vermeer, He painted situations from his home and studio using his wife and children as his models.
At this same time Joe Sheppard introduced Hofmann to the Grand Central Galleries in New York. This was his initiation into the enviable art scene in New York. Also Hofmann was beginning to want to expand his subject matter as his interest in other artists expanded.
In 1977 Hofmann met Jack Solomon, the owner of the Circle Fine Art Corporation. Circle had galleries across the United States and Canada. Solomon offered him an exclusive contract. One of the New York galleries was located on Prince St. in Soho and was named Jack Gallery after his owner. This was the future home of most Hofmann's one-man shows. The First show was extremely successful selling everything the first night of the show. This was the beginning of the career and one of the most important periods of the artist's life.
One of the stipulations of the contract was that Hofmann was to learn new and difficult medium, lithography. This entailed spending many months learning this new medium. Hofmann learned from printers on the press, both originating in Paris. This process of making an original print is a combination of drawing each plate by hand and proofing each color during the printing process. "Lithography depends on many things. I have to depend on the advice of the printer for assistance. If one of the many plates is not perfect, then it is like the domino effect. The whole thing falls apart. Everything is thrown off by one minor mistake. Plus you have to mentally keep track of the colors because when you draw the plates you do so in black and white and not color. More often than not the plates are out of tonality. You can't see the difference color relationship until the end. It is much more difficult than painting". As hard as it was and still is Hofmann in his usual manner mastered the technique and produced many successful editions. One "Dancing at Dusk" received the noted Arches/Rives/Johannot Award from the society of American Graphic Artists.
During this period with Circle Hofmann expanded his subject to include his many memorable nudes and the much loved ballet series. Many of these paintings would find themselves being turned into multiples in the form of lithographs. "I borrow from everything I like, for example, the works of Vermeer and Mucha. I'm using a Dutch technique but in an Art Nouveau model...........Victorian too. And I love the female figure. I think it's the most beautiful thing there is". In the notable ballet paintings he has tried to achieve the look of Degas, another favorite.
After the conclusion of the Circle agreement in 1994 Hofmann was introduced by Aaron Young, a well known art dealer to a group in the United Kingdom, Washington-Greene of the Halycon Gallery in Birmingham. Paul Greene, Glynn Washington and Aaron Young offered Hofmann and exclusive contract. This was the Beginning of a new contract with a new group in a new and as yet, unexplored by Hofmann, country. The first show was in the Halycon Gallery in Birmingham and Hofmann once again was a success. The next show was in the prestigious Birmingham Art Museum and Gallery. Soon after this show the group opened a gallery in London, The Halycon Gallery and also a spot in Harrod's, the well-known British department store. Together they have produced many editions of lithographs and also a biography and art book on Hofmann. It has a been a ten year successful relationship and Hofman continues to be presented by this group. His subjects have changed here and there but women have to continued to dominate the panels and prints.
He has received many awards and prizes for his work and is in numerous private and public collections.
"With my paintings I strive to get the feeling of air. There is a 'signature' to the work that reveals my hand, my feelings and my personality. You can see the manipulation of the paint and the brush strokes. I don't want to paint everyday scenes. I'm a dreamer. I want to express a romantic feeling in my work. This appeals to me as a form of self-expression in today's world of structured reality"
Return to Douglas Hofmann prints