Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys opens at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, marking the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki presents Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys, a major exhibition of work by one of New Zealand’s most influential artists, opening Saturday 4 May.
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys is the culmination of a significant international project to bring together artworks from New Zealand and around the globe to explore the artist’s place in 20th-century art.
The exhibition traces Frances Hodgkins’ creative and peripatetic life through France, Morocco and Spain to her final days in England, examining the influence of location on her development as a modernist painter and the notion of travel and journeying as a source of artistic inspiration.
Born in Dunedin, Frances Hodgkins (1869–1947) left for Europe in 1901 and, by the late 1920s, had become an important figure within British Modernism, exhibiting with avant-garde artists such as Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.
With a professional life that spanned almost six decades, the two World Wars, and periods of massive social and cultural change, Hodgkins caught the spirit of a new age. Today, she is celebrated as one of New Zealand’s most successful expatriate artists of the 20th century, and has an ongoing legacy in both Europe and this country.
The exhibition includes more than 150 artworks produced between 1901 and 1946: from early watercolour travel sketches of the French Riviera, Morocco and Venice, through to her first contact with modernism in Paris, and oil paintings from her later life in Britain.
Exhibition curator and Auckland Art Gallery Senior Curator, International Art, Mary Kisler says the exhibition is the result of almost a decade-long research project that saw her retracing Hodgkins’ extensive journeys throughout Europe.
"Apart from the periods of the two World Wars, Hodgkins moved on average six times a year, travelling from place to place in search of inspiration for her work. She tended to move to locations nearer the Mediterranean where she found stimulus from artists’ communities, including Martigues, St Tropez, Cassis, Ibiza and the Costa Brava."
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys will allow visitors to see what Hodgkins saw, and to understand how place influenced the way she painted.
"We’ll also share Hodgkins’ artistic development over time, beginning as an avid and excited young artist through to her later life, when she created the best work of her career," says Kisler.
Auckland Art Gallery Head of Curatorial and Exhibitions, Sarah Farrar says: "This exhibition is as much about her work as it is about the creative vision, single-mindedness and determination that was behind her success. She is an inspiring figure, who rejected expectations of women at the time, and did so with a certain purpose and style that resonates today. 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Hodgkins’ birth, so we’re taking every opportunity to celebrate her life and work."
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys is accompanied by a substantial publication of the same name, edited by Auckland Art Gallery’s Catherine Hammond and Mary Kisler, and co-published between the Gallery and Auckland University Press (AUP).
With contributions from English writer and art historian Frances Spalding, Australian art historian Elena Taylor, and Barcelona arts reviewer Antoni Ribas Tur, the catalogue includes further writing by Auckland Art Gallery’s Mary Kisler, Julia Waite and Sarah Hillary.
Published to coincide with the exhibition, the book explores Hodgkins as a traveller across cultures and landscapes – teaching and discovering the Cubists in Paris, absorbing the landscape and light of Ibiza and Morocco, and exhibiting with the progressive Seven & Five Society in London. The exhibition is also marked by the launch of the Frances Hodgkins Online Catalogue Raisonné, an annotated listing of all known works by Hodgkins, a major project for Auckland Art Gallery’s E H McCormick Research Library.
Alongside the exhibition launch will be the release of a new Frances Hodgkins’ artwork-inspired range of collectable accessories, Frances Hodgkins: Framed by Karen Walker, designed by fashion designer Karen Walker.
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys, Saturday 4 May to Sunday 1 September 2019.
For more details please visit Auckland Art Gallery's website.
Above (detail) and below: Frances Hodgkins, Wings over Water, 1931–32, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds Museums and Galleries, gift from the Contemporary Art Society, 1940.
Thumbnail: Frances Hodgkins, Berries and Laurel, circa 1930, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with funds from the William James Jobson Trust, 1982.