John Hoyland

One of the post-war period’s most innovative and dynamic abstract artists was John Hoyland. Born in 1934, Sheffield, his art and attitudes underwent continuous change for more than fifty years. Hoyland was raised in a working-class family and was born on October 12, 1934, in Sheffield, Yorkshire. He attended the junior art programme at Sheffield School of Art and Crafts from 1946 to 1951, Sheffield College of Art from 1951 to 1956, and the Royal Academy Schools in London starting in 1956 until finishing his education in 1960. The latter is where Sir Charles Wheeler, the Royal Academy’s then president, famously ordered that Hoyland’s paintings, all abstracts, be taken down from the walls of the Diploma Galleries. It was only the intervention of Peter Greenham (Acting Keeper of the Schools) that saved the day when he reminded Wheeler that Hoyland had painted appreciated landscapes and figurative paintings, giving proof that he could “paint properly”.

In 1953 Hoyland went overseas for the first time, hitch-hiking with a companion to southern France. It was a revelation following Sheffield’s desolation. Hoyland returned in 1957 with David Smith when he was at the Royal Academy, succumbing to what he referred to as “the Gauguin Syndrome”, a lifelong obsession with travel and the south.

A defining moment in the history of British abstract painting occurred when Hoyland held his first solo museum exhibition at Whitechapel in 1967. This exhibition “established him without question as one of the two or three best abstract painters of his generation anywhere in the world,” according to critic Mel Gooding. Two years later, he and Anthony Caro represented Great Britain at the 1969 So Paulo Biennale in Brazil. His work has been the focus of retrospectives at the Serpentine Gallery since 1979, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1999 and the Tate St Ives in 2006.

As the critic William Feaver once wrote, ‘A pukka Hoyland is a work not of hand and eye, but of total Self.’ Six decades of work were characterised by this unwavering dedication to painting. His exposure to American Abstract Expressionism in the late 1950s and 1960s had a significant impact on Hoyland’s career. But he was enough of a man and an artist to be able to consciously absorb and deflect those influences and forge his own path.

A distinct artistic identity formed, one that was preoccupied with colour, painterly drama, excess and restraint, grandeur, and most importantly, the vehement expression of emotion. Over 50 years of Hoyland’s life were devoted to his career, establishing himself as one of the most imaginative British artists of the 20th century by continually pushing the boundaries of abstract painting. The artist died in 2011 in London.

John Hoyland’s work is poised to increase significantly in value over the future years, along with that of the other Modern British artists, whose values have soared, surpassing many of their younger contemporaries. Damien Hirst is a major admirer and collector of the Hoyland’s paintings and has bought a considerable holding of his finest work. He recently presented a significant John Hoyland retrospective in his brand-new Lambeth gallery, putting the artist’s art in a prominent location. “In my opinion, John Hoyland was by far the finest British abstract painter and an artist who was never afraid to push the boundaries,” Hirst is quoted as saying. Additionally, Hoyland may be the next Turner, according to American artist Robert Motherwell.

Enquire about John Hoyland

We partner with Art Money to make art more accessible, whilst supporting artists and encouraging a sustainable creative economy. Art Money allows you to enjoy your artwork now and pay over time. Click Here to learn more.


MEDIUM Yearly lots sold Sell-through rate Sale price Price over estimate
Painting 30 76.6% £412k 8%
Sculpture 15 83.6% £331k 2%
Print 96 88.8% £27k 50%
Photography 14 84.3% £15k 72%
Work on Paper 10 83.7% £17k 89%


Please contact us to find out more.


Request guidance from a curator to find artworks handpicked for you to purchase.

Simply fill in your details and receive your advisorry guide straight to your inbox.

In order to respond to your enquiry, we will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy



Visit our gallery

Enter your contact details below and a member of our team will contact you with an available booking slot.