artist / participant
Howard Hodgkin (b. 1932) is among the most important artists working in Britain today. Nominally abstract, his paintings are, in his words, “representational pictures of emotional situations.” Layering paint on his surfaces and frames (sometimes over the course of years), Hodgkin creates—and recreates—intense experiences for his viewers. This spring, the Yale Center for British Art will be the only U.S. venue to present an exhibition of works by Hodgkin from the last fifteen years. Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 1992—2007 will feature nearly fifty works from private collections and museums in the United States and Great Britain.
The works on view in the exhibition range from small paintings that draw the viewer into intimate encounters, such as Old Sky (1996–97) and Theatre (1998–99), to large ones whose presence is often imposing, such as Performance Art (2003–04), Memorial (2000–03), and An Italian Landscape (2003–05). A focused intellectual and physical process goes into making each work, as each painting is built up from a series of interlocking elements: the event or situation that inspires the artist; the evolution of that inspiration as the painting is created; and the impact of the finished object on those who experience it.
Often, Hodgkin makes teasing reference in his titles to past artists and artistic conventions, as in After Degas (1993), After Samuel Palmer (2003–05), and Ultramarine (2003–05). But Hodgkin is adamant that these associations are only ever, at most, allusive—in fact, they are sometimes decidedly deceptive and even playful (for example, Ultramarine, which refers to Malcolm Lowry’s first published novel, is painted in cobalt). The titles may pay homage to an encounter, an instance, or an object that sparked the artist’s creativity, but they do not describe or proscribe individual encounters with the painting. Howard Hodgkin’s ability to confound discussion of his work is legendary. Yet, the particular quality of his paintings that frustrates articulate description of their subjects or meaning is precisely that which engages artist, object, and audience.
ABOUT THE ARTIST As a child, from 1940—1943, Hodgkin lived in Long Island, New York, having been evacuated from London during WWII. It was in these formative years that he resolved to become an artist. He later attended the Camberwell School of Art and the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. In 1984 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and, the following year, won the Turner Prize, the most prestigious award granted to a living artist by a British art museum (Tate). Throughout his career, his work has been exhibited extensively by U.S. museums. The Yale Center for British Art and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., showed a selection of his work in 1985. A decade later, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth organized a major retrospective, Paintings 1975-1995, which opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and toured to museums in Fort Worth, Düsseldorf, and London. A selection of his work was exhibited in 2003 at Gagosian Gallery in New York City. Most recently, a major retrospective of his work was organized by Tate Britain and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, which also traveled to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.
EXHIBITION CREDITS The exhibition is co-curated by Julia Marciari Alexander, Associate Director for Exhibitions and Publications, and David Scrase, Assistant Director of Collections and Keeper of the Department of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. The exhibition is supported by the British Council.
TOUR Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge (May 24–September 23, 2007)
PUBLICATION A fully illustrated color publication will accompany the exhibition and includes color reproductions of works at both venues. The book will be co-published by the Yale Center for British Art and the Fitzwilliam Museum in association with Yale University Press.
Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 1992-2007
Kuratoren: Julia Marciari Alexander, David E. Scrase
01.02.07 - 01.04.07 Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
24.05.07 - 23-09.07 Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge