Hans Hofmann claimed nature as the source of all inspiration. “Whether the artist works directly from nature, from memory, or from fantasy, nature is always the source of his creative impulses.” Indeed, the paintings included in the current exhibition manifest events, sensations, and imaginings inspired by nature. Through line, space, color, and plane-the key principles that Hofmann set forth in his famous lectures and influential writings-nature takes shape and form in paintings such as The Wind (1937-47), The Garden (1956), Equinox (1958), Morning Mist (1958), and Indian Summer (1959). Hofmann's representations of nature are quite the contrary-they are non-representations. “The creative process lies not in imitating, but in paralleling nature-translating the impulse received from nature into the medium of expression, thus vitalizing this medium. The picture should be alive . . . every work of art should be alive.” Through the gesture and action of painting Hofmann sought a translation (the artist's term) of the visual and spiritual experience of the forces of nature. He described a true work of art as an organism capable of a life of its own. Birthed by the artist, it does not need to resemble or reproduce the outside world, but must be a self-sufficient system with its own laws, harmony, and balance. In Indian Summer a heavy impasto of intense reds, oranges, and yellows-indeed the vibrant tones of late summer-jockey alongside large planes of blue and green. Hofmann employed contrasts of color and the arrangement of shapes as expanding and contracting forces (in his famous phrase, “push and pull”) to make the viewer experience space. He used color to create light. “In nature,” Hofmann wrote, “light creates color. In painting color creates light.” Fantasia The mid-twentieth-century author Rudi Blesh wrote that Hans Hofmann “paints spontaneously with fury that is a real fury even if it is cheerful rather than grim.” Hofmann's 1943 painting Fantasia certainly fits that description. It is an exuberant work, an explosion of poured, splattered, and scumbled paint. Energetic line and blasts of color cohere into vibrant visual energy. Currently on view in Nature into Action: Hans Hofmann, Fantasia has recently returned from a major exhibition at the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf-Le grand geste!-that explored the origins and international influences of Abstract Expressionism. Hofmann's works of the early 1940s, particularly paintings like Fantasia, straddle a cusp between Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism while also anticipating the compositional logic and push-pull spatial dynamics of his signature color plane works of the 1950s and 60s. The spontaneity and free calligraphy of Fantasia align with the avant-garde ethos of New York City in the early 1940s, favoring Surrealist tendencies toward autonomism and the unconscious. “To me,” Hofmann claimed, “creation is a metamorphosis, the highest art is the irrational…incited by reality, imagination burns into a passion for the potential inner life of a chosen medium.” He wrote this statement in 1944 on the occasion of his first solo exhibition in New York, at Art of This Century, the cutting-edge gallery founded by Peggy Guggenheim two years earlier. At the time, Hofmann preferred painting on gessoed plywood panels, sometimes two-sided, adding to the jewel-like quality of the layered strings and swatches of pigment in Fantasia. By the late 1940s, he shifted to canvas, a larger scale, and quickly moved to compositions of bold color blocks emerging from and receding into energetic surfaces of intersecting and overlapping shapes. However, we see echoes of Fantasia in the free splashes of pigment and calligraphic line of a number of later works, such as Bald Eagle (1960).