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It Speaks to Me: James Welling on Hans Hofmann’s 1958 ‘Equipoise’ at LACMA

May 11, 2011 |  2:15 pm

Hofmann One of the pleasures of seeing the Hofmann is that it’s such a riot of colors. He was right there at the beginning of the 20th century working with Robert Delaunay, Matisse and Mondrian, a participant in early Modernist thinking about color. And “Equipoise” has these terrific passages of intense colors: To me they seem like rich, right-out-of-the-tube cadmium yellows, reds and greens — colors which do not exist in nature.

For the last couple of years, I’ve taught a class [at UCLA] where we look at the physiological origins of colors — the red, green and blue receptors in our eyes. But it always makes me jealous that painters get to use colors directly, where in photography it’s always mediated through tri-chromatic processes like color negatives or digital cameras. Another thing I like is that he made “Equipoise” when he was in his 70s — it’s exciting to see someone that age breaking into new territory.


— Artist James Welling, as told to Jori Finkel

Image: Hans Hofmann, Equipoise, 1958, oil on canvas. Photo from Museum Associates.