The Berkeley Art Museum houses the most extensive museum collection of works by the modernist painter Hans Hofmann. Arguably, Hofmann's greatest legacy is the dissemination of the theories of European modernism, particularly Expressionism, through his extensive teaching. Born in 1880 in a small town near Munich, Hofmann studied art in Paris, surrounded by such artists as Henri Matisse and Robert Delaunay. In 1915 he returned to Munich, the city of Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alexej von Jawlensky, to open his own internationally known School for Modern Art. After moving to the U.S. in 1930, Hofmann exposed countless American students to European modernism while teaching throughout the country, including in his own Schools of Fine Arts in New York and Provincetown. Hans Hofmann: Real/Life, on view in the Hofmann Gallery, examines the artist's engagement with a pivotal issue of modern art - the role of the real in abstract painting - through comparisons with works by other modern artists including Kandinsky, Delaunay, and Jawlensky. The writings of Hofmann and these artists who fought the ideological battle for abstraction reveal an astounding agreement about equating the real with vitality. A true work of art is described as a living organism capable of a life of its own. Birthed by the artist, it does not need to resemble the world outside, but must be a self-sufficient system with its own laws, harmony, and balance. Thus, the artist is seen not as an imitator of life but as a demiurge breathing spirit into new, independent life. The vibrancy, grandeur, and internal complexity of Hofmann's paintings show his indebtedness to this original tenet of abstraction.