1888 (Chicago, Illinois)
1958 (Taos, New Mexico)
Self portrait - Self Portrait on Horseback
Often Known For
western painting, sculpture, illustration
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Taos Pre 1940
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Growing up in New Orleans where his father raced horses, Frank Hoffman
developed a great love for these animals, which was reflected in his
paintings. He worked as an illustrator for the "Chicago American"
newspaper, which gave him an opportunity to draw many subjects from
opera to prize fights, and eventually he became head of the department.
During that time, he took formal art training from J. Wellington
Reynolds, a portrait painter.|
In 1916, having been rejected for
military service because of poor eyesight, he went West and lived with
cowboys and Indian tribes and served as public relations director for
Glacier National Park. Eventually he settled on a ranch near Taos, New
Mexico, and became part of that art colony and studied with Leon
Gaspard, who encouraged him to use color freely.
including General Motors, General Electric, and the Great Northern
Railway hired him because they loved his bold, broad brush work and
striking colors. He also did magazine illustrations, specializing in
western subjects. Because of the spaciousness of his ranch that he
called Hobby Horse Rancho, he kept live models of cow ponies,
thoroughbred horses, longhorn steers, several breeds of dogs, eagles, a
bear and burros.
From 1940 Brown & Bigelow Publishing
Company of St. Paul, Minnesota had him under exclusive contract, and
during the next 14 years, he produced 150 paintings for that company.
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000
|Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:|
|Known as a traditional Western illustrator, painter and sculptor, Frank
Hoffman was born in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up around his
father’s New Orleans, Louisiana, racing stables. |
Through a family friend, Hoffman was hired to make sketches for the
Chicago American, later becoming head of the art department.
While working for the paper, he had five years of formal art training
in private lessons from J. Wellington Reynolds, a portrait
painter. In 1916, Hoffman went West to paint, living with the
Indian tribes and the cowboys. During that time, he also worked
as public relations director for Glacier National Park, where he met
noted artist John Singer Sargent.
In 1920, Hoffman joined the young art colony in Taos, New Mexico. He
studied with Leon Gaspard, learning the use of color. Although
focusing on his fine art, Hoffman also painted for corporate
advertising campaigns and illustrated Western subjects for the leading
national magazines in the 1920’s.
Hoffman became the best-known New Mexico illustrator of the time.
As his success grew, he bought his own Hobby Horse Rancho, where he
raised quarter horses and kept as live models the longhorns, dogs,
eagles, burros, and even a bear that he had begun to sculpt in the
Later, beginning with 1940, Hoffman was under exclusive contract to
Brown and Bigelow for calendar art, producing more than 150 Western
He died in Taos, New Mexico, surrounded by the life he painted.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
|Biography from Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum:|
|Born in Chicago, Frank Hoffman sketched horses while working as a
jockey until he was nineteen. Later, he sketched prize
fights, operas, and other subjects in ink for the Chicago American Weekly newspaper
and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1916 the Great
Northern Railroad hired Hoffman to paint wildlife to help promote
Glacier National Park in Montana. After seeing a Leon Gaspard exhibition at the Art
Institute of Chicago, he first visited Taos in 1919 and began spending
summers there while wintering in Chicago. |
Hoffman became a successful illustrator for Cream of Wheat, General
Electric, and the Cuban Tobacco Company and Western articles by Zane
Grey, Conrad Richter, and Jack London, published in Country Gentleman, The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, and The Ladies Home Journal.
In 1928, he established his Hobby Horse Rancho two miles from the Taos
plaza continuing to illustrate and paint on ranches in the Taos area
such as the C S and
the Bell. Between 1940 and 1953, he produced over 150 Western and
outdoor paintings for Brown & Bigelow of St. Paul, Minnesota, then
the largest calendar house in the United States.
Eye strain forced Hoffman to give up painting in 1953, and he died and
is buried at Taos. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
hosted three major Hoffman exhibitions in 1959, 1965, and 1990.
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