Art: Push Answers Pull

Hans Hofmann is 80, and his claim to a place in the top ranks of American painters is secure. Yet Hofmann's renown is not grounded in a lonely, inarticulate struggle of artist and canvas. He, more than anyone else, has managed to combine the roles of teacher, example and influence in leading U.S. art to its flowering of abstract expressionism in the past 15 years. This long effort has scarcely seemed to age Painter Hofmann. He looks like a jolly burgomaster who has just turned 50, and as his latest show in Manhattan's Kootz Gallery proves (see color), he still has...

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