Hofmann-Ysenbourg received his education in philosophy and aesthetics in Berlin. His travels-three trips around the world - and his training- the best sculpture instructors in France - he and his peers were known as Jeune Europe [Young Europe].
The choreographer Masin referred Hofmann-Ysenbourg to two Mexican artists: the painter José Clemente Orozco and the musician Silvestre Revueltas. This led Hofmann-Ysenbourg to subsequently come to Mexico in 1939
The pose and poise of his figures in relief illustrate an eye that has been informed by the movements of dance. His choice of material communicates movement.
"Figuras Con Sol" features simple reclined figures that populate many of Hofmann-Ysenbourg's contemporary works beneath a spiral sun. The color and texture of the piece indicate Hoffman's appreciation for pre-Columbian art in the pseudo-stucco surfaces and sandy coloring of the work leaving an impression of the work as not only thoroughly modern but also deeply indebted to an ancient Mexican heritage. A specific visual debt to pre-Columbian culture is the focus on the sun at the center of the composition. The Aztec sun god, Huitzilopochtli held a great deal of importance in Aztec lore as the patron of Tenochtitlan, later Mexico City.
Harlequin is angular and presents a bridge in form if not in content between Ysenbourg’s more figurative enamel works and his architectural works in metal. This piece retains his rough surfaces while also paying more attention to linear divisions of space. Retained also from other enamel works in the earth-toned color palette and the use of a conventional figure, whereas in sculptures such as 'Vertical Sense,' aspirations to realism or even the designs upon the capturing any essence of the recognizably physical matter is abandoned. The color blocks in green, white, and orange that occur throughout the piece show some influence of cubism as does the rendering of the figure into basic shapes. The clearest indication of any humanity in the figure is the brown curly hair atop the figure’s head. This work is indicative of a greater movement in Mexican art away from socialist realism and even the more fringe movements of magic realism of the post-revolutionary era for more abstract works less rooted in Mexico’s Indian cultural roots.
Rather than a modern sculptor trying to keep up with current fashions Hofmann-Ysenbourg was an abstract sculptor who came to the movement as a result of his artistic training—that is, because of his command of classical, neoclassical, and academic sculptural forms. He was considered either an abstract academic or an academic abstract.