© Laura Walker

Frank Hoffman (1888- 1958)

Known as a traditional Western illustrator, painter and sculptor, Frank Hoffman was born in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up around his father’s New Orleans, Louisiana, racing stables.

Through a family friend, Hoffman was hired to make sketches for the Chicago American, later becoming head of the art department. While working for the paper, he had five years of formal art training in private lessons from J. Wellington Reynolds, a portrait painter. In 1916, Hoffman went West to paint, living with the Indian tribes and the cowboys. During that time, he also worked as public relations director for Glacier National Park, where he met noted artist John Singer Sargent.

In 1920, Hoffman joined the young art colony in Taos, New Mexico. He studied with Leon Gaspard, learning the use of color. Although focusing on his fine art, Hoffman also painted for corporate advertising campaigns and illustrated Western subjects for the leading national magazines in the 1920’s.

Hoffman became the best-known New Mexico illustrator of the time. As his success grew, he bought his own Hobby Horse Rancho, where he raised quarter horses and kept as live models the longhorns, dogs, eagles, burros, and even a bear that he had begun to sculpt in the 1930’s.

Later, beginning with 1940, Hoffman was under exclusive contract to Brown and Bigelow for calendar art, producing more than 150 Western paintings. He died in Taos, New Mexico, surrounded by the life he painted.

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