HITCHENS, Ivon

Ivon Hitchens  British 1893-1979

Ivon Hitchens, painter and print maker,  born in London in 1893, was the son of the landscape artist Alfred Hitchens. Between 1912 and 1919 he studied at St John’s Wood School of Art and at the Royal Academy.

In 1922, Hitchen’s began exhibiting with the ‘Seven and Five Society’ in London. The group, Five painters and three sculptors included Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and later John Piper. Hitchens embraced the ideas on artistic abstraction advocated by his fellow members. During the 1920s and ’30s, Hitchen’s lived and worked Hampstead, where many émigré artists escaping from Nazi Germany settled. In 1931 Hitchen’s joined the avant-garde group of artists known as the ‘London Group‘. The group was founded originally in 1913 by Wyndham Lewis, Walter Sickert, among others.

Ivon and his wife left London in 1940 after a bomb landed next door to his studio. They moved to a patch of woodland called Greenleaves, near Petworth in West Sussex. Hitchens spent the next 40 years at Greenleaves, deeply absorbed by and involved in the countryside around him. Detached from other artists, he was able to develop his style freely. Hitchens was particularly inspired by the modern French masters, especially the Fauves.

In 1951 he was awarded the Purchase Prize in the Arts Festival of Great Britain. In 1955, fellow artist, Patrick Heron wrote the first monograph on Ivon Hitchens. there have been no less than four major retrospectives of Hitchens’ oeuvre, held by the most prestigious museums and foundations in the country: The British Council (1952), The Tate (touring,1963), The Towner Gallery, Eastbourne (touring, 1968), The Royal Academy (touring, 1979) and The Serpentine Gallery (touring, 1989).

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