František Simon Hofmann arrived in New Zealand in 1940, a Jew from Austro-Hungary fleeing Nazi Europe. Originally from Prague, Frank Hofmann had honed his abilities as a member of the Prague Photographic Society, acquiring the knack of both romantic Pictorialism and modernist New Objectivity. Hofmann was deeply involved in Auckland’s cultural scene: friends with artist Dennis Knight Turner, writer Frank Sargeson, violinist Maurice Clare, and architect Vernon Brown. Hofmann’s first solo show didn’t come until 1959, an exhibition at the Photographic Society of New Zealand’s Tauranga convention.
There was a revival of interest in Hofmann and his work in the late 1980s as a retro icon of New Zealand modernist taste, and in 1987 a retrospective of his work was mounted at Auckland’s Aberhart North Gallery. In 1989 his work featured in a nationally touring show mounted by what was then the National Art Gallery, Object & Style: Photographs from Four Decades 1930s–1960s, and again in 1992 in the Auckland Art Gallery’s The 1950s Show.