• The sculpture of Margel Hinder

The sculpture of Margel Hinder

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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.

Author Ian Cornford completed a Bachelor Arts (Hons) with Honours in Education and Majors in History and English in 1968, and a Graduate Diploma in Education in 1969, at the University of Sydney. In 1986 he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy, also from the University of Sydney, in Educational Psychology. He has published widely in international and Australian journals and books on cognitive psychology, skill learning, the development of expertise, transfer of learning and educational policy. After meeting Margel and Frank Hinder at Gallery A in the mid-1970s, and developing a close friendship with them, he began researching the art and achievements of the Second Wave Sydney Moderns, centred upon Frank and Margel Hinder, Grace Crowley, Rah Fizelle, Ralph Balson and Eleonore Lange. As research for this book, the author travelled widely in the UK, Europe and the USA, viewing and studying art, and especially collections related to modernism and the forms of geometric abstraction favoured by the Second Wave Sydney Moderns. The first draft of this book on Margel Hinder was completed around 1988, after extensive interviews with both Margel and Frank Hinder. This book on Margel Hinder is the author's first major publication on this group of artists, although his art scholarship and understanding of this period in Australia art history have been drawn upon and acknowledged in other recent publications on Grace Crowley.

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