About us
Artists Howard Hodgkin
Howard Hodgkin Photo

Howard Hodgkin

English Painter and Printmaker

Born: August 6, 1932 - Hammersmith, London, UK

Died: March 9, 2017 - London, UK

Howard Hodgkin Timeline

Quotes

"[I]t was because of the picture over the mantelpiece that I became aware, at a very early age [...] of pictures as things like tables, chairs, cups and saucers and so on. That conviction about the nature of pictures has perhaps saved me, helped me and protected me since."
Howard Hodgkin
"[T]o be an artist in England is perhaps [...] more difficult, more traumatic and probably more fraught with the absolute certainty of failure than in any other country."
Howard Hodgkin
"[P]ainters [...] have to build up a reservoir of feeling which is real but which can be tapped on demand."
Howard Hodgkin
"The history of British art in the twentieth century contains a dangerous number of artists who, I think, failed to be great artists because they suffered from some curious moral disease. I think the moral superiority in their heads concealed from them the moral failing in their hearts and so they went on churning it out."
Howard Hodgkin
"Whatever you do, however unsuccessful, however creepy, mendacious, self-serving, aesthetically indefensible, morally wrong, however bad an artist you are in fact, never feel grateful when people buy your pictures, never feel grateful when people say nice things about them."
Howard Hodgkin
"Artists, like actors, dancers and musicians, are very greedy for money. They need it. To be an artist you have to feel, you have to have sensations, then you have to make them into something, and then finally you need to be paid for doing it."
Howard Hodgkin
"To be an old artist is usually quite good. People do not look at what you do anymore but they do give you money for it. They even give you quite fat catalogues."
Howard Hodgkin
"Art is never therapy except for the spectator."
Howard Hodgkin

"People want to categorize me [...] It's always irritated a lot of people who'd rather I was one thing or the other."

Synopsis

Howard Hodgkin was amongst the last great luminaries of a tradition of twentieth-century British abstraction that included figures such as Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. Many older artists associated with this tradition could be loosely attached to particular styles or movements, such as the St. Ives School of the mid-twentieth century. But Hodgkin was a more singular presence in the British art world, not least because his own contemporaries and friends included the British Pop artists: Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, Peter Blake, and others. Hodgkin was thus a curious liminal figure, celebrated for an emotionally invested abstraction at a time when such an approach had largely been consigned to recent art history. At their best, Hodgkin's bold canvases and panel-based paintings occupy a thrilling intersection between pure arrangement of color and texture and subtly evocative figuration.

Key Ideas

In certain respects, Hodgkin's oeuvre might be compared to that of a North-American Abstract Expressionist such as Mark Rothko, particularly in its use of bold, rectangular panels of near-luminous color. But whereas Rothko's work has been celebrated for a sort of transcendent non-specificity, in which color and form as such become objects of wonder, Hodgkin's abstract compositions were more likely to be tethered to a representational motif: suggesting, if only for a second, a sunset, an interior, or a city-scene.
Hodgkin was amongst the most consummate of painterly painters of the twentieth century. Particularly towards the end of his career, he was able to apply a stroke of paint in such a way that each of the individual colors mixed into it also seemed to be presented in isolation, in fine granular strands. This was an effect aided by his use of wooden panels rather than canvases as painting surfaces, allowing the paint to stand proud of its background in such a way that it almost became a sculptural material.
One of Hodgkin's most distinctive formal effects was the incorporation of a painted frame into the picture-space. In iconic works such as Rain (1984-89), big, expressive, fluid brush-strokes mark out the four sides of the canvas, a gesture exemplifying the self-reflexive spirit of twentieth-century painting. By such means, the painting offers a subtle commentary on its own presentation and placement, becoming a self-contained object in the world rather than - or as well as - a portal into an imaginative space.

Biography

Howard Hodgkin Photo

Childhood

Howard Hodgkin was born into a middle-class family in London in 1932. His maternal grandfather, Gordon Hewart, was Lord Chief Justice between 1922 and 1940, and his cousins included the art critic Roger Fry, the artist Eliot Hodgkin, and the conductor John Eliot Gardiner. By the age of five he had already decided to become a painter, a fact he often publicly commented on later in life. His upbringing was disturbed by the Second World War, and between 1940 and 1943 he lived on Long Island in New York with his mother and older sister, avoiding the Blitz in Britain. This was a formative time for Hodgkin. He visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and took an interest in paintings by Picasso, Matisse, and Stuart Davis.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Howard Hodgkin Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Howard Hodgkin
Interactive chart with Howard Hodgkin's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Edgar DegasEdgar Degas
William Scott
Nicolas de StaëlNicolas de Staël
Georges SeuratGeorges Seurat

Personal Contacts

Patrick CaulfieldPatrick Caulfield
Peter BlakePeter Blake
David HockneyDavid Hockney
John Hoyland

Movements

London Group
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Intimism

Influences on Artist
Howard Hodgkin
Howard Hodgkin
Years Worked: 1949 - 2016
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Damien HirstDamien Hirst

Personal Contacts

Patrick CaulfieldPatrick Caulfield

Movements

Young British ArtistsYoung British Artists

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Luke Fareyhe

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Luke Fareyhe
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas
Available from:
[Accessed ]