Born 1915, Philadelphia, PA; died 1993, Absecon, NJ.
Born in Philadelphia in 1915, Hoffman was forced to leave school after the eighth grade due to the onset of the Great Depression. As a child, he collected junk metal and painted simple scenes on neighbors' doors. After World War II, where he saw combat serving in the Navy, Hoffman returned to New Jersey to marry, settling down in the coastal town of Absecon, close to Atlantic City, where he established a thriving junkyard.
Hoffman was a prolific carver whose work spans several genres. An important context for his practice is the rich vernacular tradition of Jewish Folk carving brought to America by generations of immigrants, which has yielded countless Torah arks, synagogue furniture, and Biblical narratives, as well as secular genres such as carousel horses that have become an integral part of American cultural history. Hoffman was not devoutly religious, but his Jewish identity was of great significance to him, especially when considering works such as The Ark, Tabernacle, and many of his smaller reliefs.
Hoffman's quintessentially outsider transformation of the familiar to the archetypal can best be seen in works that explore his relationship to the sea, drawn from memories of Naval service, his shore life, and his rich imagination. It isn't hard to find rustic carvings along eastern boardwalks, but his monumental Toothed Whale, and uncanny Neptune, King of the Sea, mark this artist's departure from the commonplace. It is where Hoffman joins his global outsider counterparts in a transcendent realm of vision and youth.
Albert Hoffman, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Sculptor of Wood, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Albert Hoffman, Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY
For the Love of Art: Folk Carvings by South Jersey Artist Albert Hoffman, The Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ
Albert Hoffman: Carver, Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY
Accidental Genius: Art From the Anthony Petullo Collection, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
In Through the Out Door, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
In the No, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
5 Year Anniversary Group Show, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Remembrance and Ritual: Jewish Folk Artists of Our Time, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Remembrance and Ritual: Jewish Folk Artists of Our Time, Makor Gallery, curated by Andrew Edlin, New York, NY
Lion Invitational, B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, Washington, D.C.
Chips Off the Block: Carvers, Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY
The Tree of Life, The American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD
BOOKS & CATALOGUES
Stone, Lisa, ed., Accidental Genius: Art From the Anthony Petullo Collection, Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum.
Edlin, Andrew (essay). Sculptor of Wood. New York: Andrew Edlin Gallery, 2007.
Kogan, Lee. Albert Hoffman (exhibition pamphlet). Oceanville: Noyes Museum, 1997.
McBee, Richard, “The Outsider Complex: Jewish Folk Artists of our Time,” The Jewish Press, May 30.
McBee, Richard, “Fear Not: Al Hoffman’s Folk Art,” The Jewish Press, July 18.
“Albert Hoffman, Carver,” Antiques and the Arts Weekly, June 4.
Johnson, Ken, “Albert Hoffman at Luise Ross,” New York Times, July 16.
Bill Kent, “Obscure No More: a Self-Taught Sculptor’s Path from the Boardwalk to the Galleries,” New York Times, July 6.
McCoy, Bett Norcross, “Graven Images: Artist Carved Niche in Folk Art, Atlantic City Press (June 28 1997)
Pover, Bonnie, “Albert: Hoffman: New Jersey Woodcarver,” Folk Art Messenger Journal of the Folk Art Society of America, Spring/Summer.
Sozanski, Edward J., “You Don’t Have to Give Up When Wide Open Spaces Beckon,” Philadelphia Enquirer, July 20.
The American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Williamsburg, VA
The Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ