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Malvina Hoffman papers, 1807-1882, 1897-1984, undated

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Descriptive Summary
Scope and Content of Collection
Indexing Terms
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Administrative Information
Container List
Series I. Correspondence and personal papers, 1903-1984, undated
Series I.A. Correspondence, 1903-1967, undated
Series I.B. Correspondence, research materials, photographs, and personal documents for commissions, 1927-1965
Series I.C. Correspondence about exhibitions, publications and lectures, 1920-1967
Series I.D. Correspondence, War relief, Dance International, and miscellaneous, 1908-1984, undated
Series II. Datebooks, 1902-1966, undated
Series III. Manuscripts, publications and lectures, 1807-1882, 1905-1966
Series IV. Periodicals, clippings, and exhibitions catalogs, 1915-1962, 1917-1980, undated
Series V. Photographs, negatives, and copper printing plates, circa 1910-1965
Series V.A. Photograph Albums, "The Races of Mankind," circa 1930-1933
Series V.B. Photographs of projects, volunteer activities, and personal life, circa 1919-1964
Series V.C. Negatives, lantern slides, copper printing plates, circa 1915-1957, undated
Series VI. Videocassettes and sound cassettes, 1924-1939, 1961, undated
Series VII. Travel diaries, postcards, scrapbooks and memorabilia, 1897-1966, undated
Series VIII. Sketchbooks, drawings, and photographs, 1898-1964
Series VIII.A. Sketchbooks, 1898-1964
Series VIII.B. Large photographs of sculptures and commissions, 1915-1960
Series VIII.C. Working drawings, sketches and progress photographs, 1915-1964
Series X. Motion picture films and negatives, 1924-1939, undated
Hoffman (Malvina) Papers


Malvina Hoffman was born in Manhattan on June 15 1885 to Richard Hoffman, a well-known pianist and music teacher, and Fidelia Lamson Hoffman.

In 1898 she studied at the Brearley School, attending evening art classes at the Woman's School of Applied Designs, and the Art Students League of New York. Between 1904-1096, she studied painting and drawing with Harper Pennington and John White Alexander and sculpture with Herbert Adams, George Gray Bernard and Gutzon Borglum.

In 1909-1910 she produced her first portrait of her father and traveled to Paris to study with Rodin. She also worked as a studio assistant to sculptress Janet Scudder while living in Paris. Her first dance sculpture, "Russian Dancers" (1911), is inspired by Anna Pavlova's performance of "Bacchanale" in London. In the spring of 1911, portraits of Richard Hoffman and William Astor Chandler are accepted to the Paris Salon. Hoffman next studied anatomy at the Cornell University College of Physicians, and began the models for "Bacchanale," a frieze of 25 panels that took her ten years to complete. Her "Russian Dancers" was exhibited at the National Academy of Design in this period.

Hoffman returned to Paris in 1912 to work with Rodin. Two more dance figures, "Bacchanale Russe" and "L'Après-midi d'un faune" (inspired by a performance of Vaslav Nijinsky) were completed this year.

In 1914-1915 Hoffman had her first solo exhibition, held at the East 34th St. studio in Manhattan. While in London for an exhibition at Leicester Galleries, she supervised the installation of Rodin's works at Grosvenor House. She also assisted in the cataloging of Rodin's drawings for the Musée Rodin at the Hôtel Biron, Paris. During this period, Hoffman collaborated in the organization of Appuix Aux Artistes to support models and artists unemployed as a result of the onset of World War I.

She returned to New York in the Fall and established a permanent residence and studio at Sniffen Court in Murray Hill, Manhattan. Produces numerous photographs and drawings of Pavlova with Andreas Pavley posing for "Bacchanale." Exhibitions of her dance groups and lithographs were held at the Brooks Reed Gallery in Boston and the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco.

In 1919 she was in a group show at the Whitney Studio Club, and returned to Paris to assist in the installation of Rodin's work in the Musèe Rodin. Her "Bacchanale Russe" was placed in the Luxembourg Gardens this year, and she undertook a seven week tour of Yugoslavia in August of 1919, as a representative of the American Relief Commission.

In 1920-1921 she completed "Offrande" (based on Paul Verlaine poem), "La Péri" and "The Sacrifice," a memorial to American Ambassador Robert Bacon for Harvard Memorial Chapel. She resumed work on "Bacchanale" with Pavlova and Novikoff, and had her first one-woman exhibition at Ferargil Galleries in May, 1921.

In 1924 she completed "Bacchanale," and married her childhood friend Samuel Grimson. Also in 1924, American businessman Irving Bush commissioned Hoffman's most significant architectural sculpture for the Bush House in London, commemorating Anglo-American friendship.

In 1925 Hoffman traveled to Zagreb to study equestrian sculpture with Ivan Mestrovic, and filmed him at work on his "American Indian Groups" for Chicago's Grant Park. She moved to Villa Asti in Paris with Grimson and had a major exhibition at the Grand Central Art Galleries in December, 1928.

In 1929 Stanley Field commissioned Hoffman to create sculptures of "The Races of Mankind" for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. She traveled for eight months photographing, drawing and taking anthropological data of models for ethnographic "portraits." She produced 104 sculptures, first exhibited in 1932 at the Musée d'Ethnographie at the Palais du Trocadero before permanent installation at the Field Museum. Hoffman became a celebrity with the opening of the Hall of Man on June 6, 1933,

She divorced Grimson in 1936 and returned to Sniffen Court. Her ethnographic sculptures were exhibited in several venues including the Dance International Exposition (1937). Her "International Dance Fountain" was installed at the New York World's Fair, 1939. In 1939 she published Sculpture Inside and Out (1939), an instructional guide to sculpture. In 1943 she published an account of her travels for the Hall of Man commission, Heads and Tales.

Between 1948-1950, Hoffman worked on a World War II memorial for Epinal Memorial Cemetery in France. In 1955 she produced relief panels for the Joslin Hospital, Boston. In 1965 she published her autobiography, Yesterday is Tomorrow. Malvina Hoffman died July 19, 1966 at Sniffen Court, Manhattan.

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