"ONE SHOULD BE CHANGED IN THE PRESENCE OF GREAT ART."
Robert Hofherr was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in the year 1958 and clearly remembers being able to draw form an early age. He had a fairly conventional childhood, which included attending a high school with an exceptional art program. Graduating in 1980, it was here at The Cooper Union in New York, that an art-related career became a possibility. He worked in graphic design and advertising until recently and has been painting steadily since 2012. Robert’s art combines intense color, economy of drawing and expressive paint handling in order to create works that elevate the ordinary and mundane into compelling and unique explorations.
Robert has participated in many group exhibitions in the mid-Atlantic region, and has had solo shows in Baltimore and Ellicott City, Maryland. He had a painting selected as a winner in the Fine Arts category in Creative Quarterly 35, an online and print arts magazine. In August 2019, he was the featured artist in Harford’s Heart, a print and online publication that features articles of local interest in Harford County, Maryland. Robert also sells his work online on UGallery.com and Saatchiart.com.
“Economy of expression is important in my work. If I can say something in four brushstrokes, for example, then I prefer doing that to using 40 or 400.”
Robert describes how he found his artistic style when coming into contact with the master of Fauvism. However, in Robert's work the intense use of color and broad brush strokes take an interesting turn. Instead of the slightly aggressive, almost juvenile characterization of reality common in Fauve, Robert brings out the beauty and emotion of his motifs. The expressionism of Robert's intense red leaves against the darkening blue landscape, the warmth of the bar lights at night, the swirl of the autumn sky above the village church, make you feel like you are in the landscape the painting is capturing - not physically so much as mentally. A very welcome escape from the ordinary.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. All artists are involved in the process of creation. This is important in a world in which there is so much destructive behavior. Truly significant art also challenges the viewer’s perceptions and stereotypes.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I remember doing pencil drawings as a child and was surprised that everyone didn’t draw like I did. I seemed to have the ability to represent my surroundings fairly accurately if I wished. I’d like to think that I have tried to look at things more closely in order to see the inherent artistic possibilities.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. High school was where I became much more interested in art and of course, The Cooper Union introduced me to many of the great masters, as well as modern artists.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. I don’t know about sacrifice, it’s a matter of time allocation. If one spends a certain amount of time doing art, then one will spend less time involved in other activities.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. I began to develop my present style when I discovered the Fauve movement, especially the work of Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. I believe the Fauves liberated the use of color from very specific rules (color symbolism or a particular quality of light, for example) in order to use it for any purpose, dependent only on the needs of the work.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. Other influences are Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Paul Serusier, the German expressionists, Alexej von Jawlensky, and Marianne von Werefkin.
Q. What does your art aim to say?
A. I don’t have a specific message in my art. It’s more about the opportunity to express myself through the act of painting and the hope that the result will resonate with a viewer. I think that a compelling work of art can show new things to people after the initial viewing, if they are prepared to really look.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Painting isn’t a spectator sport, but the time passes quickly when one is in the midst of a piece.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. Family, dogs, music, reading and exploring out-of-the-way locations in this region are important.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I create works that are very noticeably done by hand. In my opinion, if something is so detailed and ‘perfect’ that it could be a photograph, then it might as well be one. Art done by the human hand reveals the individual, including the smudges, mistakes and reworkings. In this way, art is a reflection of life itself.