Ludwig von Hofmann

Ludwig von Hofmann, “Die Quelle (The Source)”, 1913, Oil on Canvas, Thomas Mann Archives, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

A member of the avant-garde group “Eleven”, Ludwig von Hofmann was an active participant in the cultural movement “Berlin Succession”. He taught at the art school in Weimar, located in central Germany, and at the Dresden Academy of Arts, where he directed a course in monumental painting. Von Hoffman was a frequent illustrator for the arts and literary magazine “Pan”, which played an important role in the development of the Art Nouveau movement in Germany. 

Working in a combination of Symbolist and Art Nouveau styles, Ludwig von Hofmann’s paintings included antique and biblical themes, and idyllic landscapes inhabited by surreal or mythological creatures. His work aspired to portray beauty in form, using unique and strong color combinations, and often presented a veiled eroticism in its figures.  Von Hofmann’s symbolist work is both decorative and idealized, with verdant forests, blossoming fields, and naked or clothed figures whose skin or flowing garments are lit by the sun. 

In 1903, von Hofmann was appointed a professor at the Weimar Saxon Grand Ducal Art School. He was later named a Professor at the Academy of Arts in Dresden in 1916, remaining there until 1931. In his later years, von Hofmann predominately worked in the Art Nouveau style, producing engravings and illustrations, and designing libraries, residential rooms and theaters. 

The production of Ludwig von Hofmann’s work slowed in the 1930s, with some of his work labeled “degenerate art’ by the National Socialist Party in 1937. He retired to the town of Pillnitz, a section of east Dresden, where he died in August of 1945. 

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