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Frank B. Hoffman (American, 1888-1958)


A member of the Taos art colony, Frank B. Hoffman was known for his colorful, gestural paintings and illustrations of western subjects, particularly animals. He was born in New Orleans and as a boy eagerly observed his father’s racehorses, thereby solidifying a lifelong love of animals. In his early career, Hoffman moved to Chicago and not only illustrated for the Chicago American, an afternoon newspaper, but also trained in painting with J. Wellington Reynolds. Due to poor eyesight, he was unable to join the military, thus prompting a trip to the West in 1916, where he lived on various dude ranches and Indian reservations and took a job with Glacier National Park as a public relations director.

It was Taos, New Mexico, where Hoffman eventually settled, that fueled his artistic imagination for the rest of his career. Working with Leon Gaspard at the Taos art colony, he acquired a heightened palette and freer brushwork. He also took pride in his Hobby Horse Ranch, which he outfitted with a motley menagerie: longhorn cattle, ponies, thoroughbred horses, mules, and dogs, even an eagle and a bear.

Hoffman’s painterly style attracted advertisers like General Electric and General Motors who hired him for illustration jobs. At the end of his career, he illustrated exclusively for Brown & Bigelow, a publishing company in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas; Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianaplis; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha; and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City are among the museums featuring Hoffman’s paintings.

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