At the invitation of his former student Worth Ryder, by then a member of the art department faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, Hofmann travels to the United States and teaches art at the University. The summer art session runs from 19 May through 28 June, and he returns to Munich afterward, resuming classes from the fall of 1930 through the spring of 1931.
Hofmann accepts a second invitation to teach at the University of California’s summer art session. In July and then in August, the Berkeley art department and San Francisco’s California Palace of the Legion of Honor give Hofmann his first exhibitions in the United States. The two shows consist of drawings completed by Hofmann while teaching in Europe and California, and include portraits and interior figure studies, and landscapes from places such as St. Tropez. In the autumn, Hofmann returns to Munich to teach and he remains there through late spring of 1932.
On his third trip to the United States, Hofmann returns to California to teach in Los Angeles at the Chouinard School of Art from 1 June through 31 August. In Hofmann’s absence, artist Edmund Daniel Kinzinger teaches summer session classes in St. Tropez, and does the same in Murnau in the summer of 1933.
In September, Hofmann moves from Los Angeles to New York, and one month later he teaches a six-week evening drawing class at the Art Students League, a progressive, independent art school in New York. One of his many students is Ray Kaiser (later, Ray Eames), who would continue to study painting at the Hofmann school in New York and in Provincetown until 1940.
In the winter, Hofmann leaves the Art Students League to teach private art classes in a building at 444 Madison Avenue. He decides to remain in the United States to pursue these and other teaching opportunities, and postpones his return trip to Germany for the foreseeable future.
Hofmann spends the summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts, invited by former student Ernest Thurn to teach at the Thurn School of Art. Hofmann’s Schule für Bildende Kunst officially closes in Munich.
He applies for an extension of his visa in December. Worth Ryder writes a character letter on Hofmann’s behalf and University of California President Robert Sproul writes an endorsement letter to the State Department, supporting Hofmann’s visa extension.
In late January, Hofmann leaves the United States while his visa application is being renewed. He spends the following several weeks in Bermuda, and returns to New York aboard the Queen of Bermuda steamship on 19 February.
Over the summer, Hofmann lectures again at the Thurn School of Art. He shares a house nicknamed the “Little Studio” in Gloucester with Mercedes Carles (later, Mercedes Matter) and her father Arthur B. Carles, who both encourage Hofmann’s return to painting. He begins work on what would be an extensive series of landscapes.
Returning to New York in the fall, Hofmann teaches painting and drawing classes full time at the newly founded Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, located at 137 East 57th Street. He holds morning and afternoon classes in painting, drawing from life, and composition. Life drawing classes are held each weekday evening, and Hofmann holds additional classes on Saturdays.
In the late fall, Hofmann gives a series of lectures at his school on his theories of art, which are advertised in the New York Times: “Historical—Aesthetic Constants” (9 November), “Elements of Plastic Creation” (23 November), and “Social Significance of Modern Art” (7 December).
At the end of the year, Hofmann decides that he will run his own summer art school as he had done in Germany. He learns of a vacancy at the former studio of artist and teacher Charles Webster Hawthorne, founder of the Cape Cod School of Art in 1899 in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Hofmann takes up residency in Hawthorne’s Miller Hill studio—often referred to as the “Hawthorne Barn”—and starts holding summer classes as part of the Hofmann School of Fine Arts. He paints a number of landscapes here, titled “Miller Hill.”
In October, Hofmann moves the School of Fine Arts from 137 East 57th Street to 52 West 9th Street.
Lee Krasner, who would become one of the foremost Abstract Expressionist painters as well as the wife of Jackson Pollock, enrolls in Hofmann’s art school. She attends painting classes on and off at Hofmann’s school during the next three years.
In March, Hofmann files an application for US citizenship. While he had already established a position for himself in the New York art scene, Hofmann is likely prompted by news of mounting turmoil in Europe and Hitler’s far-reaching National Socialist regime.
In an August letter to her husband, Miz warns him to “put order into your relationship to the U.S.A. soon. Here they are drafting even the veteran reserve up to 65 years […], and it is possible that also Germans living abroad could be drafted […].”
In July, the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts moves to 52 West 8th Street. During the 1938–1939 school year, Krasner introduces Hofmann to art critic Clement Greenberg. The critic attends three lectures by Hofmann at the school, and would champion the artist’s work in numerous publications during the next two decades.
Hofmann lives at 177 West 4th Street.
After six years of living in Munich apart from her husband, Miz departs for the United States. She travels first to Paris, then departs Europe from Le Havre, bound for New York via the ocean liner President Harding, and arrives on 26 August.
Miz spends the winter of 1939 and 1940 in New Orleans with former Hofmann student Fritz Bultman and his prominent New Orleans family. The Bultmans had helped Miz procure her visa for immigration to the United States, and their connection to the Isaac Delgado Museum in New Orleans likely inspires the Museum to exhibit Hofmann’s works in 1941.