By Robert Weinberg
A 1931 holiday snap depicts the emerging giants of British modernism – Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore – poised for a brisk dip off the Norfolk coast. To one side, looking on, Ivon Hitchens appears to be dressed more for a meeting with his bank manager. The image could be a metaphor of Hitchens’s place in 20th-century art, because despite his closeness to the movers and shakers of abstraction, he seems to occupy an altogether different world.
In fact, the formal clothing, and Hitchens’s reportedly sombre temperament, belied his elemental sensibilities. Working for almost 40 years from a travellers’ caravan near Petworth, he rarely ventured far from the six acres...
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