Author: Ian Cornford
Publisher: Enid Hawkins with Phillip Mathews Book Publishers
Hardcover, dustjacket, sewn, colour and black and white
Cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and determinedly international in outlook, American-born Margel Hinder (1906–1995) was one of Australia's most creative modernist sculptors. In America, she experienced at first hand works by Brancusi, Gabo, Pevsner, Archipenko and Epstein, who were to have a major impact on the directions of 20th century modernist sculpture. Together with her husband, artist Frank Hinder, she was also exposed in the 1930s to early exhibitions of modern art, and the resurgence of interest in the Renaissance. She absorbed the belief that the arts, science, mathematics, reason and emotion all contributed to the production of meaningful and aesthetically important art reflecting its era.
Margel's mature works in wood, metals and mixed media are concerned with movement, light, space and time. Sculptures created, after her involvement in experiments in perception and camouflage during World War II, force the viewer – through movement – to engage in constructing meaning and a sense of aesthetic completeness. Indeed, her focus upon the construction of meaning by the viewer, and the successful incorporation of aesthetically satisfying movement into her sculpture, arguably make worthwhile contributions to international modernist theory and practice.
In rare exposures in international, modernist sculpture exhibitions, Margel Hinder's abstract work received high praise from judges and critics. As a prize winner in the 1953 Unknown Political Prisoner Competition, she was ranked alongside internationally renowned sculptors Calder, Bill, Gabo, Pevsner and Hepworth.
Margel Hinder and her sculpture have been neglected in standard accounts of Australian art history, despite the excellence of her work. Caught up in a parochial rejection of international modernism as a threat to national identity, that effectively extended over many decades, in the 20th century, she and fellow artists Frank Hinder, Grace Crowley, Rah Fizelle and Ralph Balson because casualties of the earlier, political 'culture wars'.
As a sculptor who spent so much time and creative energy producing public sculpture to be enjoyed by all, she deserves to be better known. This book seeks to firmly establish the importance of Margel Hinder in the history of Australian art though the excellence of her work, its innovation, and links to international modernism.
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