Art: Trapezoids & Empathy

"At the time of making a picture," says Painter Hans Hofmann, 71, "I want not to know what I'm doing; a picture should be made with feeling, not with knowing . . . A shape can be sad or gay, a line delirious."

Hofmann's latest paintings, sad, gay and delirious, were on display last week in a Manhattan gallery. Drunken trapezoids in blinding reds and blues lurched against whirling, multicolored backgrounds. Blobs of oil streaked across canvases like Technicolor comets, leaving woozy hexagons and rectangles in their wake.

Hofmann likes bare canvas. To him it is "a perfect expression of 100% volume." But...

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