A Commemoration: Frances Hodgkins' Works 1929–46

22 November 1997 – 25 January 1998

This exhibition of 18 works commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Frances Hodgkins. Included with works from the Gallery's collection are ten works, never seen publicly in Christchurch before, which have been generously loaned from the British Council and British Government art collections.

 

When Frances Hodgkins died in Dorset, England on 13 May 1947, she was poorly represented in public collections in New Zealand. The works held were mostly from the period before 1920 and there was almost nothing representing the last 20 years of her life. Her death brought about an awareness of this, but few people in New Zealand realised how important she had become as a contemporary artist in Britain and the high regard in which she was held. Frances Hodgkins had achieved recognition within the international modern movement, something no other New Zealand artist of her generation had attained.

In Christchurch she was not represented in either the Robert McDougall Art Gallery or the Canterbury Society of Arts collections. When attempts were made by Hodgkins supporters, early in 1948, to rectify this situation by gifting the watercolour Pleasure Garden to the city collection, they were obstructed by the conservative lobby. This precipitated a row which has become a landmark in the annals of New Zealand art history.

This exhibition of 18 works commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Frances Hodgkins. Included with works from the Gallery's collection are ten works, never seen publicly in Christchurch before, which have been generously loaned from the British Council and British Government art collections.

In the 1930s and 1940s Frances Hodgkins became highly experimental, developing a personal calligraphic style distilled from the influence of works of modern masters such as Cezanne, Braque, Picasso, Matisse and Dufy. Despite these influences, her identity and independence as an artist was always evident and earned the praise of many contemporary critics. In 1936 Clive Bell wrote in 'The Listener' of Hodgkins saying 'She is at her best when she is herself.'

A Commemoration: Frances Hodgkins' Works 1929–46 focuses on the last 17 years of the artist's career, the period considered the most significant in her life's work.

Proudly supported by the British Council and The Link programme.

This exhibition was held at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in the Botanic Gardens.