John Hoyland

John Hoyland RA has been called ‘Europe’s answer to Mark Rothko’ and is regarded as the leading abstract artist of his generation. Hoyland was born in Sheffield in 1934, he studied at Sheffield School of Art (1951-1956) and then at the Royal Academy Schools (1956-1960).  He found the rigidity and traditional approach at the Royal Academy stultifying as a student, feeling more comfortable with an instinctive and spontaneous approach to his canvasses.

He then taught at the Chelsea School of Art, where he met Patrick Caulfield, who became one of his closest friends, and then at the Slade and Royal Academy art schools. He continued to paint, exhibiting in a variety of one-man shows at the Whitechapel Gallery, the Marlborough New London Gallery and, annually, at the Waddington Galleries. In 1964 he moved to New York, where the kind of Abstract Expressionism in which he was interested was at a more advanced stage than in London. Hoyland’s works are powerful and richly coloured, built up from layers of thick paint. Rivers of colour run over the surface, often focussed on a cell-like central focus to the composition. Hoyland’s first solo show was held at the Marlborough New London Gallery, London in 1964.


This was followed by a string of national and international solo exhibitions, including the Whitechapel Gallery, London (1967). He exhibited at the Waddington Galleries, London throughout the 1970s and 1980s. 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. Hoyland’s work has also been included in numerous international group exhibitions from 1964, when his work was selected for the New Generation exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. More recently he has participated in group exhibitions at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool and the Barbican Gallery, London in 1993, and at Galerie Josine Bokhoven, Amsterdam and the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1994.