A 1950 documentary film by Sam Feinstein
narration by Hans Hofmann and Sam Feinstein
“Mr. Feinstein is a highly gifted artist with a pronounced standing of his own and with a deep understanding of the plastic problems in painting.”
– Hans Hofmann, 1953
The 29-minute, black-and-white documentary titled Hans Hofmann was created as a collaboration between Hofmann and artist/director/producer Sam Feinstein beginning in the summer of 1950 in Provincetown, and continuing throughout the decade of the 1950s. Together they wrote the narration while the filming, editing and final production was completed as a solo venture by Feinstein. The filming itself took place in Hofmann’s classes as well as in his private studio and outdoors on the cape and in New York City. Feinstein’s experience as an artist, art educator and writer, filmmaker and Hofmann student contributed significantly to the project. The focus of the film is on the philosophy and principles of art as conveyed by Hofmann in his teaching and writing, and as made evident in the process of his own painting. A ten-minute sequence in the film shows Hofmann painting The Window, a work now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1965, Hofmann wrote to Feinstein:
I hope you can complete the realization of the great film about my scholarly and artistic activity that did so much engage your time and creative energy.
I am totally in simpathy with the entire film.
Prior to creating the Hofmann film, Feinstein had worked on films for the Surgeon General’s Office of the US Army, the United Nations, the Film Board of Canada and the Federation of Atomic Scientists. During the late 1940s, he had been Supervisor of Classes at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and filmed the museum’s first art documentary. Feinstein was a Hofmann student from 1949 to 1953, and a contributing editor to Art Digest during the early 1950s. At Hofmann’s request, Feinstein wrote the essay for the Kootz Gallery brochure of the Hofmann exhibition in 1953.
The film Hans Hofmann premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1999 and has been screened in many venues since that time. It was released as a DVD insert in the monograph titled Sam Feinstein written by Patricia Stark Feinstein and published in 2008.