Born in Bavaria, Germany, Hans Hofmann spent his early years in Munich. After focusing on math and science, Hofmann discovered a passion for art. He moved to Paris in 1904 with the help of an art patron. In Paris he studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and the Academie Colarossi. He immersed himself in the thriving Paris art scene and met such artists like Picasso and Matisse. The work he created during this time followed the leading avant-garde movement of the time - cubism. In 1910 Hofmann was given his first solo show in Berlin.
In 1915 Hofmann opened an art school in Munich. Over the years he earned an admirable reputation as an instructor of art. He was invited to teach in the United States and would move permanently in 1932. Based in New York City, Hofmann worked as an instructor at the Art Students League before establishing his own school in the city. Becoming known for his abstract paintings, Hofmann was given a solo show at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery in 1944. In 1957, his work was the subject of a retrospective showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He then retired from teaching in order to focus on creating art. In 1960, Hofmann was chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale and was considered a leading abstract expressionist who created vivid and inventive paintings.