Margel Hinder (1906-1995) was one of Australia’s most creative and important modernist sculptors. Born in America, Margel and her Australian husband, Frank Hinder, were exposed to important modern art in the more receptive American setting, and the renewed interest in the Renaissance at that period. She experienced directly, and was influenced by, works by Brancusi, Gabo, Pevsner, Archipenko and Epstein, who were all to have major impacts upon the conceptualisation and production of twentieth century modernist sculpture. From this culturally rich environment she absorbed the belief that the arts, science, mathematics, emotion and reason all contributed to the production of meaningful and aesthetically important art reflecting its era, prior to arrival in Australia in 1934.

Her mature Australian works in wood, stone, metal and mixed media are concerned with movement, light, space and time. Many of these works were created after her active involvement in experiments into human perception and camouflage during World War 2, and are designed to force the observer – through movement either of the viewer or work – to engage in the active construction of meaning and a sense of aesthetic completeness. Her sculptures that are deliberately designed to force viewers to construct meaning, including the aesthetically successful motorised works, arguably make serious contributions to international modernist theory and practice.

Determinedly international in outlook, Margel Hinder produced intellectually demanding abstract work of high quality, at a time when Australian art was still focused largely upon issues of national identity and eschewed abstraction. Rare exposure of Margel’s work in international sculpture competitions resulted in high praise and achievement. Her prize-winning entry, among 3502 world-wide from 56 countries in the 1953 Unknown Political Prisoner competition, was ranked alongside the internationally renown sculptors Alexander Calder, Max Bill, Naum Gabo, Antoine Pevsner and Barbara Hepworth.

Margel’s ability to incorporate motors into her work to achieve aesthetically successful moving sculptures makes her one of only a very small group of modernist sculptors to have succeeded in this endeavour. Perhaps the sculptures that best embody Margel’s artistic concerns, and are also the most innovative in terms of international sculptural achievement, are her elegant, motorised, revolving constructions of the mid 1950s that create virtual forms as they rotate, change, reflect light, create shadows and carve out space in real time.

Margel produced only a relatively small number of high quality, distinctively individual works. Reasons for this include the general lack of interest in sculpture as an art form and of patronage of sculptors in Australia at this period, her concentration upon producing large scale sculptures for public enjoyment, doing all her own work (like Brancusi) until 1972, and the financial necessity to engage in commercial art work for many years with her husband, Frank Hinder, while also raising a family. Given the limited time available for her own serious artistic production, Margel’s efforts appear to have been concentrated on the exploration of distinctly different artistic problems and challenges, rather than series of closely related works.

Solo Exhibitions

State Exhibition: Contemporary Art Society (1957) 1957
David Jones' Art Gallery, 10 April 1957 - 24 April 1957, Sydney
Frank and Margel Hinder retrospective (1973) 1973
Newcastle Art Gallery, 30 August 1973 - 30 September 1973, Newcastle
Frank and Margel Hinder 1930-1980 1980
Art Gallery of New South Wales, 12 June 1980 - 13 July 1980, Sydney
Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection 2002
Art Gallery of New South Wales, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003, Sydney
Sydney 6 - Abstract artists: Hinders, Lewers, Plates, 1940s-1970s 2015
Newcastle Art Gallery, 09 May 2015 - 02 August 2015, Newcastle

Group Exhibitions

Contemporary Art Society Exhibition 1946 1946
location unknown, 26 April 1946 - 10 May 1946, Sydney
Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81 1981
Art Gallery of New South Wales, 15 October 1981 - 01 December 1981, Sydney
Review: works by women from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales 1995
Art Gallery of New South Wales, 08 March 1995 - 04 June 1995, Sydney
Sydney Moderns 2013
Art Gallery of New South Wales, 06 July 2013 - 07 October 2013, Sydney



Ian Cornford, The sculpture of Margel Hinder 2017
Philip Matthews Book, Willoughby, New South Wales 2013, ISBN 9780977553280

Selected General Reference Books & General Catalogues

Barry Pearce, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Australian Art' 1981
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1981
Terence Maloon, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'The pedagogy of modern art: the quest for modernity by Australian artists abroad' 2013
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 2013
Renée Free, Frank and Margel Hinder, 1930-1980 2017
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1980

Newspapers, Periodicals & Magazines

Drusilla Modjeska, The Bulletin with Newsweek, 'Art and Soul' 2002
Sydney 2002


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