Roger Hilton

February 1954


Not on display

Roger Hilton 1911–1975
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1270 × 1016 mm
frame: 1288 × 1035 × 38 mm
Purchased 1970

Display caption

Hilton made a number of paintings like this which were said to have been influenced by the work of Piet Mondrian. In Amsterdam a little earlier, Hilton had seen Mondrian’s abstract compositions of primary colours inserted into black and white grids. Hilton laid his paint on in thick areas which abut, avoiding any overlap or mixing of paint. In this way he stresses the physical presence of the painting as an object. Typically, however, one can still discern references to the human body; the black areas have been read as references to arms, legs and breasts.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

Roger Hilton 1911-1975

T01230 February 1954 1954

Inscribed on reverse: ‘HILTON/50 x 40/FEB ‘54’.
Canvas, 50 x 40 (127 x 101.5).
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1970.
Coll: Hon. Robert Erskine (purchased from Gimpel Fils, 1954); Waddington Galleries.
Exh: Gimpel Fils, April 1954 (37); I.C.A., February-March 1958 (7), as ‘February’.
Repr: Lawrence Alloway, Nine Abstract Artists, 1954, pl. 30.

In conversation with the compiler in front of T01230 in 1971, the artist said that it was influenced by his experience of Mondrian’s paintings. In the catalogue of Hilton’s exhibition at the Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zürich, June 1961, Alan Bow- ness wrote:’ In the early 1950s [Hilton’s work] was entirely non-figurative, especially during what the artist calls his neo-plastic phase of 1953–5. Hilton had visited Amsterdam in 1953, and impressed by the purity of Mondrian’s work, gave up the kind of impressionistic abstract painting that derived from the garden pictures of Bonnard, Klee and Bissiere. The neo-plastic paintings—appropriately the Stedelijk Museum at Amsterdam has an excellent example—are not isolated and self-enclosed, but seem to create space around them; their bold, positive colours and simple, roughedged forms being a part of something outside the picture frame itself.’

In Hilton’s own statement of 1954 in Alloway, op. cit., these intentions are explained at greater length; all six of the works by Hilton which accompany the statement are from this phase.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1970–1972, London 1972.


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