IVON HITCHENS British, 1893-1979
Ivon Hitchens is widely regarded as the outstanding English landscape painter of the 20th century. His daring yet subtle use of colour and brush mark makes his work instantly recognisable in public and private collections throughout the world.
Ivon Hitchens was born in London in 1893, son of the landscape artist Alfred Hitchens. Between 1912 and 1919, during the First World War, he studied at St John's Wood School of Art and at the Royal Academy Schools.
In 1922, Ivon Hitchens began exhibiting with the 7 & 5 society in London. The group of artists was founded in 1919 and was initially conservative in outlook, intending to promote a 'return to order' following the First World War. However, shortly after Ivon Hitchens became a member, the group was joined by modernist artists Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and later John Piper. Ivon Hitchens embraced the ideas on artistic abstraction advocated by his fellow members and during the 1920s his mature style began to develop.
During the 1920s and '30s, Ivon Hitchens lived and worked Hampstead, within the avant-garde circle known as the London Group. This incorporated members of the 7 & 5 society as well as prestigious artists such as Naum Gabo and Paul Nash. However, he and his wife left London in 1940 and moved to a patch of woodland called Greenleaves near Petworth in West Sussex.
Ivon Hitchens spent the next 40 years at Greenleaves, deeply absorbed by and involved in the countryside around him. Detached from the currents of British modernism, he was able to develop his style freely. Ivon Hitchens was particularly inspired by the modern French masters, especially the Fauves. Like them, Ivon Hitchens was more concerned with portraying the sensations of nature than nature itself. His broad canvases allow a panoramic experience of the smells, colours and textures of his surroundings. His characteristic manner involves sweeps, dabs and blocks of colour applied with broad brushes and often set against a bare white ground. Although apparently applied with spontaneous energy his compositions retain a harmony of form and colour that is always pleasing.
Although distant from the epicentre of British Artistic endeavour, Ivon Hitchens' work continued to be appreciated and in 1951 Ivon Hitchens was awarded the Purchase Prize in the Arts Festival of Great Britain. In 1955 Patrick Heron wrote the first monograph on the artist.
Major retrospective exhibitions held by the most prestigious museums and foundations in the country:
1952, The British Council, London
1963, The Tate, London (and touring)
1968, The Towner Gallery, Eastbourne (and touring)
1979, The Royal Academy, London (and touring)
1989, The Serpentine Gallery, London (and touring)
Public collections include:
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Castle Museum, Norwich
Courtauld Institute, London
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Leeds City Art Gallery
Leicester Museum and Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts, London
Walker Gallery, Liverpool
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Scottish National Museum of Modern Art
Southampton Art Galleries
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Art Gallery of Vancouver
Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
National Gallery of Ottawa
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris
Bishop Suter Art Gallery, Nelson
National Gallery of New Zealand, Wellington
National Gallery, Oslo
Tatham Art Gallery, Natal
Gothenburg Art Museum
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo
Centre for British Art, Yale, New Haven, Conn.
Seattle Art Gallery
Smith Art Museum, Northampton, Massachusetts