web analytics

on Aug 12, 2014 in | 0 comments

(Click to Enlarge)
Oil, Wash and Graphite on Board
5 1/4 x 8 1/8 inches / 9 x 11 inches board
Larger Wood Complementing Color Wash Original Frame and Matted Cloth
Signed Ro Hodgell 49 lower right
Gallery or Framer label on back “Madison”; attributed as Madison, WI
Fine Condition with remnant on wing

An original 1949 oil on board painting by American artist Robert O. Hodgell (1922 – 2000) measuring approximately 9 x 11 inches (visible inches approximately 5 1/4 x 8 1/8 inches) in a larger period frame. Robert Overman Hodgell was born in Kansas. A painter, etcher, engraver, and illustrator, Hodgell studied at the University of Wisconsin where he earned his BS and MS degrees. He also studied at Dartmouth College Hodgell was a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists, Art Association Museum, National Serigraphic Society, and Madison Art Association. His works are held in the Joslyn Art Museum at Dartmouth College.

Robert O. Hodgell was born in Mankato, Kansas, in 1922. His parents were schoolteachers, then his father turned school administrator and was ordained a Methodist minister. He actually died of a stroke suffered in mid-sermon, caught as he fell by his elder son Murlin (Hodgell, Murlin). Bob enrolled in children’s art classes at Washburn College. In high school his interests switched to track where he was nicknamed the “Kansas Kangaroo” for his high jumping style. He also threw the javelin 165 feet, ran the 100 yard high hurdles, and captained the basketball team (“Awards Winner”).

In 1939, he stopped by the Topeka State House to watch the celebrated artist John Steuart Curry work on its murals. Curry hired him, first as an apprentice and later as his assistant. That summer, in addition to cleaning brushes and palettes, Bob finished details on tornadoes, buffalo, and even the central figure of John Brown. Scholastic reports that “there are some flowers and herds on which Bob did a large proportion of the work” (“Awards Winner”).

At the time, Curry was one of the most famous artists in the country. He belonged to the Regionalist school now best known for Grant Wood’s iconic “American Gothic.” Curry was the first artist in residence at an American university (UWM), a distinction that put him on the cover of Life magazine. (Strange but true: he was sponsored not by the art or even the humanities department but by agriculture.) To become his apprentice, therefore, was a huge honor for young Bob and he worked with the artist for the remaining six years of Curry’s life, with time out for World War II.

“Curry was the biggest influence in my life,” Bob told reporter Joan Altabe in 1991. “I learned on the job. I think starting out in the apprentice system rather than the educational system makes a difference in your outlook. You see art as a calling instead of as a profession” (Altabe).

Of course, the war disrupted a vast number of lives, and Bob’s was one of them. As a navy trainee, he attended Dartmouth and Columbia Midshipman’s School, graduating to become the skipper of a LCT in the Gilberts and then a LSM engineering officer in the Philippines. During this period he first grew his signature beard so as to distinguish himself from the rest of his teenaged crew.

To give his own summary of the next fourteen years as narrated to Margaret Rigg for motive magazine, “Back to Wisconsin, Curry, track. Wesley (student). Got married [to Lois, my mother] and a Master’s degree, freelanced as an artist for a year. Went to Des Moines Art Center as instructor and resident artist, three years. Divorced, and went to Mexico to paint and study. University of Illinois graduate school-teaching and chief illustrator for “Our Wonderful World” encyclopedias for three years. Then, more freelancing art at Urbana, Illinois. Married and widowed. Became art director, University of Wisconsin at Madison for their Editorial and Communications Services, Extension division. Have illustrated four children’s books (working on a fifth), illustrated articles and stories in Playboy and other magazines, have been exhibiting prints and paintings for almost twenty-five years now, had over twenty one-man shows” (Hodgell, Robert).

In 1962 he moved to Florida to take up a teaching position at Florida Presbyterian College with the two conditions that he neither shave his beard nor give up his association with Playboy. In 1972, FPC became Eckerd College. Bob married again and continued to teach until 1977 before quitting to resume art full time.

From 1977 to 2000, his rampant creativity led him into all manner of media, resulting in many more art shows and innumerable awards. “His impact on the art community is immeasurable,” says Arthur Skinner, professor of visual arts at Eckerd and a former colleague. “He was a true artist if ever I have known one, one for whom art was his life, one who worked tirelessly, virtually every day of his life” (Basse).

While his subject matter was as varied as the medium in which he expressed it, he is best remembered for his religious themes. According to B. J. Stiles, editor of motive, his “woodcuts and linoprints brought new insights and fresh vision to several generations of people of faith, reared in the comforting confines of Sallman’s Head of Christ [one of the afore-mentioned “bearded ladies”] and countless bad reproductions of Durer and Rembrandt. Hodgell illuminated truths and insights from both the Old and New Testament that had long been dulled and obscured by well intended but nonetheless trite teachings and insipid preaching. His work was tacked to bulletin boards in dorm rooms and campus religious centers on several continents. His work endures — and inspires” (“Century Marks”). source: daughter of artist

Selected Museum and Public Collections

· Library of Congress

· Metropolitan Museum of Art

· Des Moines Art Center

· Joslyn Art Museum

· University of Wisconsin

· Kansas State University

· Bergstrom Museum

· Ringling Museum of Art

· St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts