John Hoyland Artist Biography
John Hoyland has been called "Europe's answer to Mark Rothko" and is regarded as the leading abstract artist of his generation. His works are powerful and richly coloured, built up from layers of thick paint. Rivers of colour run over the surface, often focused on a cell-like central focus to the composition. John Hoyland was born Sheffield, October 12, first child of Kenneth and Kathleen Hoyland. From 1946 to 1951, he attended Sheffield School of Art & Crafts (Junior Art Department) instead of following grammar school education. Then (1951-1956), he studied fine art at Sheffield College of Art, where emphasis is on figurative painting – no awareness of abstract art. From 1956 to1960, he studied at Royal Academy Schools, London and began to draw seriously from the model and to paint figures. As a student, he found the rigidity and traditional approach at the Royal Academy stultifying, feeling more comfortable with an instinctive and spontaneous approach to his canvasses.
The 1960’s were a crucial decade for John Hoyland. It was in these years that he found his voice as an artist: his work was characterised by simple shapes, high-key colour and a flat picture surface. It was also the time when he made his first trip to America, to New York in 1964, travelling on a Peter Stuyvesant Foundation bursary. There he met Robert Motherwell, with whom he was to become great friends, also Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, and visited their studios. John Hoyland's first solo exhibition was held at the Marlborough New London Gallery in 1964 and his first solo museum show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1967.
In the 1970’s his paintings became more textured. He exhibited at the Waddington Galleries, London throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. During the 1960s and 1970s, he showed his paintings in New York City with the Robert Elkon Gallery and the André Emmerich Gallery. His paintings are closely aligned with Post-Painterly Abstraction, Colour Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction. A retrospective of his work was held at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1979 and again in 1999 in the Sackler Galleries of the Royal Academy. In September 2010, John Hoyland and five other British artists including Howard Hodgkin, John Walker, Ian Stephenson, Patrick Caulfield and R.B. Kitaj were included in an exhibition entitled The Independent Eye: Contemporary British Art from the Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie, at the Yale Center for British Art.