“The physical symbol of France is a cock” wrote Hans Hofmann (1880–1966) in 1949, punning on the word’s double meaning in English while likening the “strength, tenacity, and courage” of the School of Paris to a more than obvious priapism. Surely, there have been more elegant metaphors in the history of art, yet the vulgarity of Hofmann’s statement is indicative of his earthy and robust sensibility. “Hans Hofmann in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” is a small show that captures the go-for-broke nature of this pivotal figure in twentieth-century American art. The exhibition contains about a dozen paintings, a gallery of drawings, and a sampling of studies by his students, including Lee Krasner, Fritz Bultman, and Myron Stout. Hofmann’s status as a teacher is, of course, legendary and has often colored his reputation as a painter. Is Hofmann’s artistic achievement hampered by pedagogy, as some...

 
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