The Prey
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ldewey's picture


Hans Hofmann is well known for his illustrious career as an abstract expressionist, but I bet you didn’t know that he was also a regular Ben Franklin...

...or the name of some other inventor. He invented an electromagnetic comptometer, a radar device for ships, a sensitized light bulb, and a portable freezer (why would anyone want a portable freezer?).

The Prey stands out from most of his other paintings, which mainly focus on geometric form and blocks of color. This one consists of freehand splashes and wiggly lines, which Hofmann insists were not premeditated: “For this, you need to be in the rarest of states.” Which makes it sound like Hoffers was getting high. We're convinced that in his smoky stupor, a blueprint for his latest invention just got mixed up in the studio. I hope it’s for a portable microwave. (Easy-mac on the bus, people!)

This painting hangs in the Berkeley Art Museum, which Hofmann donated $250,000 to so that they could build a new wing for his artwork. Unfortunately, the massive concrete building is not even remotely earthquake safe and is set to be torn down in the next few years. But don’t worry! The museum’s extensive collection of Hofmann paintings will be moved to the fancy new (seismically sound) museum in downtown Berkeley in time for their opening day in January 2016.