Hofmann was born in Bavaria in 1880. At the age of eighteen, he began to study painting at the studio of Moritz Heymann in Munich. In 1903 he moved to Paris where he attended evening classes at the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere and the Academie Colarossi where he met Picasso, Braque and Derain.
After an extended period devoted to drawing, Hofmann returned to painting in 1935, combining Cubist structure, vivid colour, and emphatic gesture. He became a united states citizen in 1941. The artists completely abstract works date from the 1940’s. His first solo exhibition in New York took place in Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery, Art of this Century in 1944.
In 1915 he opened the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in Munich and in 1933 he opened another school in New York. But in 1958 he closed his schools in order to devote himself exclusively to his own work. Hofmann's teaching in Germany and America is of seminal importance to the history of art. He was the engine that brought together German Expressionism and American Abstract Art, and is therefore often referred to as the 'Father of Abstract Expressionism'.
In 1963, MoMA gave a full scale retrospective, which also toured. Hofmann's art can be summed up with his own words: "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak, and the whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of colour."