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Frank Hofmann: From Prague to Auckland

Frank Hofmann: From Prague to Auckland

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  • Tue 25 Oct ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed 26 Oct ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu 27 Oct ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri 28 Oct ’11, 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat 29 Oct ’11, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
  • View all sessions


Gus Fisher Gallery, 74 Shortland Street, Auckland CBD


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

From Prague to Auckland: The photographs of Frank Hofmann (1916-89)
26 August – 29 October 2011

Opening preview, Friday 26 August, 5.30pm

Frank Hofmann arrived in New Zealand in 1940 as a refugee from Nazism. He quickly established himself as a professional photographer, first in Christchurch, then in Auckland from 1941. In Auckland he initially worked for Clifton Firth, the most prominent photographer, and from 1948-75 for Christopher Bede Studios, the country’s largest commercial portrait business. This was Hofmann's day job. He also pursued art photography intensely, exploring the aesthetic and poetic potentialities of the medium in various genres: portraiture, experimental and abstract, architectural, and landscape. Besides being an outstanding photographer, Hofmann is particularly important historically for introducing inter-war European modernist ideas and practices into New Zealand.

He was a semi-professional musician and, from the early 1940s, a member of the Auckland String Players, which evolved into the Auckland Symphonia. With his wife, the writer Helen Shaw (Hella Hofmann), he was a central figure in a lively, multi-disciplinary cultural scene; closely involved with the visual arts, modernist architecture and literature. He photographed most of the leading figures of this milieu – conductors Georg Tintner and Juan Matteucci, musicians Lili Kraus and Valmai Moffat, painters Eric Lee Johnson and Louise Henderson, architects Vernon Brown and Ivan Juriss, and writers Frank Sargeson and A.R. D. Fairburn. Once asked for his biography, Hofmann replied that a photographer's biography was his work.

Exhibition curated by Leonard Bell, Art History

Exhibition run alongside the exhibition Liyen Chong: Of Positions and half Positions having several marks at once.

Public events:

- Saturday 27 August, 1pm
An exhibition tour with curator Len Bell in conversation with the artist’s son, Stephen Hofmann.

- Saturday 3 September, 1pm
Writer Riemke Ensing recalls her friends Frank Hofmann and his wife Helen Shaw, and reads a selection of her related poems.

- Saturday 10 September, 1pm
Artist Liyen Chong discusses her exhibition and its development at McCahon House.

- Saturday 17 September, 1pm
Critic and writer William Dart talks to senior members and alumni of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra about the APO’s formative years as the Auckland String Players with Frank Hofmann.

- Saturday 24 September, 1pm (Architecture Week)
In response to Frank Hofmann’s images of houses by Vernon Brown and The Group, John Walsh, NZIA Communications Manager, talks about approaching architecture through photography.

- Saturday 1 October, 1pm (Architecture Week)
As part of Architecture week, Hugh Byrd and colleagues from the School of Architecture and Planning will give a talk on the ‘Myths and the Maths behind a Low Carbon Auckland’ and a presentation will be on display in the gallery foyer all afternoon.

- Saturday 8 October, 1pm
A panel discussion exploring issues of the self and culture in a New Zealand context, particularly as it relates to new migrants from the Asian region, led by Vera Mey and Liyen Chong.

- Saturday 15 October, 1pm
In response to Frank Hofmann’s multi-disciplinary lifestyle, Gus Fisher Gallery Curator Andrew Clifford gives a talk on relationships between art and music.

- Thursday 20 October, 7pm
Photographer Yvonne Todd responds to aspects of Frank Hofmann’s portraiture and commercial work. The gallery is open until 9pm for Art Week. www.artweek.co.nz

- Saturday 22 October, 1pm
Anna Parlane explores the association between Frank Hofmann and architect Vernon Brown.

- Saturday 29 October, 1pm
Exhibition curator Len Bell discusses the implications of émigré artists working in New Zealand.

All exhibitions and events are free and take place at the Gus Fisher Gallery unless otherwise noted.

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