Skip to content

Hodin, J. P.

    Image Credit: Tate

    Full Name: Hodin, J. P.

    Other Names:

    • J. P. Hodin

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1905

    Date Died: 1995

    Place Born: Prague, Praha, Hlavní Město, Czech Republic

    Place Died: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: Czechoslovakia

    Subject Area(s): English (culture or style) and Modern (style or period)

    Career(s): art critics


    Art critic and art historian; popularizer of modern art in England. He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, which is present-day Prague, Czech Republic. Hodin’s father, Edouard David Hodin, was a German Jew working in Czechoslovakia as a photographer at the time of his son’s birth. His mother was Rose Klug (Hodin). At his father’s insistence, Hodin studied law at Charles University, Prague, graduating with a J.D., in 1924. He never practiced, however, entering the Art Academy of Dresden in 1931 and the Art Academy of Berlin studying art, 1932-1933. Hodin settled in Stockholm during World War II, joining the Czechoslovak Resistance there. His first books on art were published in Swedish. He then moved to London working as press attaché to the Norwegian government-in-exile. Following the war, Hodin returned to art and criticism. Hodin married [Doris] Pamela Simms in 1945 and began a study of art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, in 1946. He wrote his edition on the artist Edvard Munch in 1948, in Swedish, Edvard Munch: Nordens genius. Hodin developed a friendship with the expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka, who lived in London from 1938 to 1954. This led him on a career of writing on proto- and Expressionist artists. He met the artists Isaac Grunewald and Ludwig Meidner and wrote monographs on them as well. Hodin also brought to the attention of the British public Germanic artists such as Emil Nolde, Paul Klee and Max Beckmann and, to a lesser extent, Kurt Schwitters, Naum Garbo and Moholy-Nagy. Hodin was appointed the first director of studies and librarian of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1949. He continued to lecture, emphasizing in particular the artists outside France, which dominated British art sensibility. In 1954 he won the first international prize for art criticism at the Venice Biennale for his work on Surrealism and Francis Bacon. Hodin assumed co-editorship of the art periodical, Quadrum, in 1956, exploring the avant-garde movements in art. The same year, 1956, his work of esthetics, The Dilemma of Being Modern was published. Hodin and his wife, Pamela, lived in Cornwall, where she was raised. There he met the artists Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, both members of the St. Ives artists’ group. Hodin wrote studies of them, again, based upon first-hand information, Ben Nicholson: The Meaning of His Art, in 1957, and Barbara Hepworth in 1961. Hodin relinquished his Quadrum duties in 1966, issuing his Oskar Kokoschka: A Biography, one of six pieces he wrote about the artist, the same year. A second major esthetics treatment, Modern Art and the Modern Mind, appeared in 1972. He was made an honorary professor of Vienna University in 1975. At his death in 1995, his papers were given to the Tate Museum in London. Hodin’s methodology is an example of Geistesgeschichte the notion that an artist is a representative of the spirit of his age (Kleinbauer, 1970). Hodin’s biographical studies are characterized by a novelistic treatment of the artist’s character employing strong pyschology.

    Selected Bibliography

    Edvard Munch: Nordens genius. Stolkholm: Ljus, 1948, English, Edvard Munch. New York: Praeger 1972 ; The Dilemma of Being Modern: Essays on Art and Literature. London: 1956; Ben Nicholson: the Meaning of his Art. London: A. Tiranti, 1957; Barbara Hepworth. London: Lund Humphries, 1961; Oskar Kokoschka: The Artist and His Time: A Biographical Study. Greenwich, CT: New York Graphic Society, 1966; Modern Art and the Modern Mind. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University, 1972.


    Kern, Walter. J. P. Hodin, European Critic: Essays. London: Cory, Adams and Mackay, 1965; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. “Geistesgeschichte and Art History.” Art Journal 30, no. 2 (Winter 1970-1971): 149;Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 98; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, p. 154; [obituary:] “Josef Hodin.” Times (London) December 8, 1995.


    "Hodin, J. P.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: