Buying art from Italy turns out to be a horrifically complicated business, so much so that it took nearly four months for me to untie all of the requisite bureaucratic red tape. But I sliced through the final Gordian knot a couple of weeks ago, and “Composition (1961)” arrived by overseas courier yesterday, just in time to console me for not having been able to see “Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction” in Massachusetts. It is what print collectors call a “rich impression,” one whose illusion of depth is so powerful that I gasped when I took it out of the package and saw it “in the flesh” for the very first time.
It happens that Mrs. T doesn’t much care for “Woman’s Head,” the Hofmann that I bought back in 2005, just before we met, which hangs over our living-room couch alongside equally striking prints by Milton Avery, Richard Diebenkorn, John Marin, and Joan Mitchell. I’m guessing, however, that “Composition (1961)” will fit neatly into the space previously occupied by “Woman’s Head,” and my plan is to hang it as soon as it comes back from our trusty framer. First, though, I’ll bring it to New York-Presbyterian so that she can get a look at the latest addition to the Teachout Museum, which is small enough for me to tuck under one arm. She hasn’t seen any art since entering the hospital in December, and my hope is that it’ll brighten her life to hold “Composition (1961)” in her hands and imagine how it will look over the couch.
That’s another joy of collecting art: sometimes you can take it with you.
UPDATE: Here’s how it looks on the wall.