14 February 2019
Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys opens at Auckland Art Gallery, 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.’
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.
About Frances Hodgkins
New Zealand-born Frances Hodgkins (1869–1947) arrived in London 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. She travelled extensively throughout Europe until war made her settle in England where she spent the latter part of her long and highly productive working life. Combining natural talent, a unique vision and sheer determination, she established a successful career and became one of the most influential painters of her generation.
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. Hodgkins was a trailblazer whose legacy lives on today both in New Zealand and in Europe.
About Mary Kisler
Mary Kisler is Senior Curator, Mackelvie Collection, International Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, responsible for a collection ranging from the 13th to the mid-20th centuries. Since 1998 she has curated a wide range of international historical and modern exhibitions at the Gallery.
She has published on a wide range of topics from subjects within modernism to Italian Renaissance art, including The Corsini Collection: A Window on Renaissance Florence (Auckland Art Gallery, 2017) and Angels & Aristocrats: Early European Art in New Zealand Public Collections, (Random House, 2010), and forthcoming publications Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys (Auckland University Press, 2019) and Finding Frances Hodgkins (Massey University Press, 2019).
For almost a decade, Kisler has been researching the importance of place in the oeuvre of Frances Hodgkins and working on the Frances Hodgkins Online Catalogue Raisonné.
About the Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys publication
A vivid and revealing book published alongside a landmark exhibition focused on one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised artists, Frances Hodgkins. Published to coincide with a touring exhibition of her work initiated by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, this 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.
Complete with a rich visual chronology of the artist’s encounters abroad, alongside over one hundred of Hodgkins’ key paintings and drawings, the book is an illuminating journey that moves us from place to place through the writings of a number of distinguished national and international art historians, curators and critics.
Publication date 4 May 2019
About Frances Hodgkins: Framed by Karen Walker
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has partnered with Karen Walker for a new artwork-inspired range of collectable accessories, Frances Hodgkins: Framed by Karen Walker.
In celebration of the Gallery’s forthcoming major exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys, Walker’s designs draw upon the modernist works of New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins – one of the early 20th-century’s trailblazers and recently included, alongside Walker, in the NZ Herald’s list of ‘Trailblazers: 125 Kiwi Women Who Changed the World’.
To create the range, Walker has been granted exclusive access to the Gallery’s collection of Hodgkins’ artwork: the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world. From these paintings, Karen has produced exclusive travel-inspired accessories, reflecting Hodgkins’ nomadic and adventurous lifestyle, which was ground-breaking for New Zealand women at that time.
‘Frances Hodgkins was the original “Runaway Girl”,’ Walker says. ‘Her life was full of purpose, adventure and independence. Our work has always been inspired by strong female stories and
women with outsider points of view and adventurous spirits.’