For an artist, time can always be regained . . . because by an act of imagination you can always go back.
One of England’s most celebrated contemporary painters, Howard Hodgkin (1932–2017) was deeply attuned to the interplay of gesture, color, and ground. His brushstrokes, set against wooden supports, often continue beyond the picture plane and onto the frame, breaking from traditional confines. Embracing time as a compositional element, his work is testament to his immersion in the intangibility of thoughts, feelings, and fleeting private moments.
Hodgkin was born in London and grew up in Hammersmith Terrace. During World War II he was evacuated to Long Island, New York, for three years. In the Museum of Modern Art, New York, he saw works by School of Paris artists such as Henri Matisse, Édouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard, which he could not easily have seen then in London or Paris. Back in England in 1943, Hodgkin ran away from Eton College and Bryanston School, convinced that education would impede his progress as an artist, though he encountered inspiring teachers at both schools. He then attended Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts (1949–50) and Bath Academy of Art, Corsham (1950–54).
Hodgkin never belonged to a school or group. While many of his contemporaries were drawn to Pop or the School of London, he remained independent, initially marking his outsider status with a series of portraits of contemporary artists and their families. His first solo exhibition was at Arthur Tooth and Sons in London in 1962. Two years later he first visited India, following his interest in Indian miniatures, which began during his time at Eton. Collecting Indian art would remain a lifelong passion, which he initially supported by dealing in picture frames.
In 1984 Hodgkin represented Britain at the Biennale di Venezia. His exhibition Forty Paintings reopened the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in 1985, and he won the Turner Prize the same year. In 1998 Hodgkin joined Gagosian, and the gallery presented his first show in the United States since his critically acclaimed 1995–96 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which had traveled to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; and Hayward Gallery, London. His first full retrospective opened at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in 2006 and traveled to Tate Britain, London, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. In the autumn of 2016 Hodgkin visited India for what was to be the last time, completing six new paintings before his return to London. These works were shown at England’s Hepworth Wakefield in 2017, in Painting India, a show that focused on the artist’s long-standing relationship with the Indian subcontinent.
Starting in the 1950s, Hodgkin maintained a parallel printmaking practice, translating his visual language into works on paper. Exploring the interactions of color and space on a grander scale, he produced theatrical set designs for Ballet Rambert, the Royal Ballet, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. His black stone and white marble mural fronts the British Council’s headquarters in New Delhi. Additionally, Hodgkin designed a stamp for the Royal Mail to mark the millennium; textiles for Designers Guild; and posters and prints for the Olympic Games in Sarajevo, London, Sochi, and Rio de Janeiro.
Hodgkin was knighted in 1992 and made a Companion of Honour in 2003. He was awarded the Shakespeare Prize in Hamburg in 1997, and in 2014 won the first Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon award.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Layla and Majnun
A celebrated collaboration between Sir Howard Hodgkin and choreographer Mark Morris. Nancy Dalva takes us behind the scenes.
Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends
In this video interview, National Portrait Gallery senior curator Paul Moorhouse explains how Hodgkin increasingly abstracted what people meant to him, representing people in his pictures through memories, evocations, and feelings.
Howard Hodgkin From London to Hong Kong
In Howard Hodgkin: From London to Hong Kong, we are welcomed into the celebrated painter’s London studio. Narrated by Robin Vousden.
Howard Hodgkin: Last Paintings is available for online reading from September 6 through October 5 as part of the From the Library series. Published on the occasion of his 2018 exhibition at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London, the catalogue celebrates Hodgkin’s final works, many of which had never been previously published. His brushstrokes, set against wooden supports, often continue beyond the picture plane and onto the frame, breaking from traditional confines. Embracing time as a compositional element, his work is testament to his immersion in the intangibility of thoughts, feelings, and fleeting private moments. A new essay by Paul Hills is included along with a biography by Antony Peattie and poem by Stevie Smith.
Howard Hodgkin: Last Paintings (New York: Gagosian, 2018)
Visions of the Self
Rembrandt and Now
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 6:30–8:30pm
Kenwood House, London
In the interest of public health, this event has been postponed until further notice.
Gagosian is pleased to host a drinks reception to celebrate the release of Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, published on the occasion of the recent eponymous exhibition at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Organized in partnership with English Heritage, the exhibition places Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665) in dialogue with self-portraits by Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lucian Freud, and Pablo Picasso, as well as leading contemporary artists such as Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Giuseppe Penone, Richard Prince, Jenny Saville, Cindy Sherman, and Rudolf Stingel, among others. The catalogue includes an introduction by Wendy Monkhouse, senior curator at English Heritage, and a text by art historian David Freedberg. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now (London: Gagosian, 2020)
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6pm
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Gagosian director and art historian Richard Calvocoressi will lead a tour of the exhibition Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Calvocoressi will take a look at postwar and contemporary masters of self-representation, anchoring the conversation to an important Rembrandt masterpiece included in the exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665). The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact email@example.com.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665, English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo: Historic England Photo Library
Textiles de Artistas
March 12–June 19, 2022
Fundacíon Barrié, A Coruña, Spain
This exhibition explores the history of twentieth-century art through fabrics designed by artists, with unique examples from artistic movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Pop art. Comprised of more than one hundred works, the show presents an important overview of weaving as a popular art form in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe. Work by Alexander Calder, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, and Andy Warhol is included.
Amy Sillman—The Shape of Shape
October 21, 2019–April 12, 2020
Museum of Modern Art, New York
In The Shape of Shape, Amy Sillman—an artist who has helped redefine contemporary painting, pushing the medium into drawing, installations, video, and zines—has created a revelatory Artist’s Choice installation drawn from the museum’s collection. The exhibition features works, many rarely seen, spanning vastly different time periods, places, and mediums. Work by Jay DeFeo, Helen Frankenthaler, Howard Hodgkin, Henry Moore, Albert Oehlen, and Christopher Wool is included.
Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1989, Museum of Modern Art, New York © Albert Oehlen
Hodgkin & Creed
September 18–November 17, 2019
Kistefos, Jevnaker, Norway
Inside Out finds a series of relationships that take us beyond a lyrical reading of Howard Hodgkin’s paintings and radically rethinks his oeuvre. At the same time, the exhibition approaches Martin Creed’s Minimalist work through Hodgkin’s expressionism, drawing on a number of themes including: Minimalist seriality, concepts around objects and language, emotional reparation, the performative body (with its relation to time), and the work of art itself.
Installation view, Hodgkin & Creed: Inside Out, Kistefos, Jevnaker, Norway, September 18–November 17, 2019. Artwork, left to right: © Howard Hodgkin Estate; © Martin Creed. Photo: Timothy Chase
India on Paper
October 14, 2017–January 7, 2018
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, England
This unique exhibition celebrates the artist’s love affair with India, which he visited for the first time in 1964. The trip was a revelation, and he returned almost every year thereafter. This exhibition features a range of Hodgkin’s Indian-themed works on paper, including gouache paintings, editioned prints, and hand-colored impressions made over half a century.
Howard Hodgkin, Mumbai Wedding, 1990–91
© Howard Hodgkin