Ivon Hitchens 1893-1979

Ivon Hitchens was the pioneer of the abstracted vision of the landscape that is one of the key ideas of British Modernism in the 20th Century. He was a founder member of the Seven & Five Society, the influential group of painters and sculptors, that was responsible for bringing the ideas of the European avant-garde to London in the 1930s.


He attended the Royal Academy School in 1911, but with the intervening years of the Great War, he did not finish until 1919. Hitchens felt a compulsion to move away from the traditional pictorial language consecrated by the RA and to develop a personal language that would express what he actually felt in front of nature. He wanted to express the inner harmony and rhythm which he feels rather than sees, running through and uniting any group of forms, all the while conceding to the discipline and craftsmanship derived from a long academic training. 


After his London studio was bombed in 1940, he moved with his family to a gipsy caravan in the middle of the Sussex countryside, where he embarked on the landscapes - using long horizontal canvasses traditionally reserved for seascapes and panoramas - that were to define his career. In his later years, his work became increasingly abstracted, the brush marks and colours taking on a language of their own, far removed from the motif, so that they became less landscapes and more a kind of visual music.


“What I see and feel, I try to reduce to patches and lines of pigment, which have an effect on our aesthetic consciousness, independent of (though interpreting) the facts of nature in terms of a relationship of all the parts.”


Works by Ivon Hitchens have been shown extensively both nationally and internationally, with retrospectives held at the Royal Academy in 1979 and the Serpentine Gallery in 1989. He is represented in numerous public collections in Britain and abroad, including the Tate Gallery, Courtauld Institute, Victoria & Albert Museum, Arts Council & The Yale Center for British Art in New Haven.