Howard Hodgkin (1932 - 2017)

British painter and printmaker. He was born in London and after an education spent running away from a number of schools, notably Eton, studied at Camberwell School of Art, 1949–50, and Bath Academy of Art, 1950–54; he later taught at Bath, 1956–66. His paintings sometimes look completely abstract, but he based his work on specific events, usually an encounter between people—‘one moment of time involving particular people in relation to each other and also to me’. He was a relative of Roger Fry and when young frequently visited the home of Fry’s sister who had a large collection of Omegaobjects which made a strong impression. This has sometimes been used against him: Brian Sewell referred to him as ‘a painter of pretty post-Omega tea trays’. However, Robert Hughes was surely nearer the mark when he related Hodgkin to the Intimism of Bonnard and Vuillard. Like them he takes his themes from a comfortable cultivated setting. The titles of the paintings frequently reference friends, sometimes other artists, but according to Hodgkin ‘The Picture is instead of what happened. We don’t need to know the story: generally the story’s trivial anyway. The more people want to know the story the less they’ll look at the picture’. After 1970, he worked not on canvas but on thick planks of wood, to emphasize his paintings as objects. He travelled widely, making several visits to India, and his preference for flat colours and decorative borders reflects his admiration for Indian miniatures, of which he made a collection. A well-known figure in the art world, he was a trustee of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, and in 1985 he was awarded the Turner Prize. He was knighted in 1992, and there have been major exhibitions of his work at the Hayward Gallery in 1997 and Tate Britain in 2006, for which the artist made the controversial decision to paint the walls in bright contrasting colours.


Text Source: A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art