Jack Hofflander was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920. During his childhood, he was already entering art contests with his pencil sketches, especially using the flora, fauna, and landscapes near Lake Michigan as his subjects. After graduation from high school in 1938, he studied “life drawing” at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. During World War II he was in the Special Services Branch, where he utilized his skills to design and paint murals in military hospitals. When the war concluded, he moved to New York City, where he remained the rest of his life.
In Manhattan, he studied at the Art Student’s League of New York City from 1946 to 1950, and at the Howard Trafton Art Studio in 1951. Soon afterward, he entered the field of retail advertising. He worked for Stern Brothers’ Department Stores from 1948 to 1959, first as Junior and eventually as Senior Layout Man for retail advertising, then as Art Director for home furnishings - supervising advertisement, poster and catalogue creation, and photography. During the decade of the 1960s, he designed and painted window and interior display backgrounds for Bloomingdale’s, Bendel’s, Bergdorf-Goodman’s, and Macy’s, as well as doing design work for his dear friend Helena Rubinstein. From 1970 into the 1990s, he was a freelance mural painter (domestic and commercial), and he designed textile and wallpaper designs for Lily Furst, Gloria Buce, Arlene Gardner, and Albert Barry. This work included design in home furnishings, china, paper goods, and greeting cards. During this period, he also studied art therapy at the Grow School (1970) and the Elaine Rapp Group (1971), and design at the Parson’s School of Design (1986). He taught life drawing (1975-1976) at the Gramercy Art Studio (New York City), floral drawing and painting (1983-1987) at Parson’s School of Design (New York City), and textile design and color composition at the Brookfield Craft Center (Connecticut).
As a fine artist, beginning in 1953 until the late 1990s, he held 16 one-man art shows, as well as numerous group shows, in New York City, Upstate New York, Boston, Maine, California, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida (Palm Beach), and in the West Indies (Bridgetown, St. Vincent). His work can be found in the Caracci-Boswell Collection, as well as the collections of Marjorie Meriwether Post, Mary Martin, Arthur Laurents, Joan Crawford, Rich Little, and Helena Rubinstein.
Jack’s unique painting style came about while studying at the Art Student’s League of New York City. A combination of New England folk art and Haitian folk art, mixed with influences from Japan, India, and the Middle East, he has been described as a “sophisticated primitive landscape painter, who romanticized small worlds of fact and fantasy,” with his earliest works also taking inspiration from Gaughin, Rousseau, and Braque. Although his work shows a trained technical expertise, his naïve style is unique in its execution. A New York art critic once explained his talent like this: “The man must be a happy painter, for he paints happy pictures in the very special world that he alone inhabits.”
Jack Hofflander's paintings celebrate the charm of the Haitian and New England countryside. A sophisticated primitive landscape painter, Hofflander romanticizes small worlds of fact and fantasy and creates immaculately painted towns and villages that come alive in an environment of eternal spring.
There is an obvious relationship between Hofflander and the art of Middle Eastern Persian miniature painters. The attention 10 detail and a regard for all things small and precious are obvious comparisons.
However, Hofflander does not limit himself to miniatures for his reputation as a muralist precedes him. Over the years, his most avid clients have been people from the film industry and theatre. Their enthusiasm for fantasy, both romantic and mystical, is the only criterion needed to appreciate the lyrical paintings of Hofflander.
To date, Hofflander has converted his paintings into needlepoint tapestries of exquisite detail and content. Preferring to see himself as an Eastern painter who paints in the West Indies and New England, Hofflander has created a synthesis of style and technique which marks him as an unusually gifted artist.
Having a career that spanned the fine arts, commercial designing, mural painting, and teaching, Jack Hofflander died peacefully on November 17, 2003, in New York City.