Malvina Hoffman was a famous sculptor who lived from 1885—1966. She was born in NYC as the daughter of Richard Hoffman, a famous concert pianist in New York. She discovered her sculpting talents and liking for it early and took courses at the Art Students League of NY, where she studied under masters such as Herbert Adams, George G. Barnard, and Gutzon Borglum.
In 1910, after her father’s death, she and her mother moved to Europe. They lived for a time in Italy before moving to Paris, France. After a few unsuccessful attempts, she was finally accepted to study under Auguste Rodin. He recognized her ability to render physical features, and he suggested that she go back to Manhattan to study anatomy and to really hone her abilities. This was an excellent suggestion for Malvina, who only got better.
In the 1930s, Hoffman worked on an anthropological sculpting project that depicted people of various ethnic groups. They were life-size sculptures. Later, Hoffman received criticism that the works depicted the people in a very primitive way. This was very much a huge problem of the time period though.
In the onslaught of WWI, Malvina worked for the Red Cross as a nurse. While doing so, she traveled to Yugoslavia to meet the sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. She would later study with him.
Hoffman did not participate in WWII with the Red Cross, but was asked to sculpt a memorial for remembrance.
She died in 1966.
Legacy: Hoffman is remembered as a great sculptor, along with her contemporaries Anna Hyatt Huntington—who has a page on this blog—and Evelyn Beatrice Longman—who will have a page on this blog. Her works are displayed in well-known scholarly institutions such as Harvard and Syracuse.