Born 6th. August 1932, in London.
British painter, printmaker, and art collector.
Full name: Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin.
He was brought up in Hammersmith, west London. His father worked for ICI, and
his mother came from a Lancashire legal family. His great-great-grandfather was
Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866) who described the glandular disease, later called
'Hodgkin's Disease'. His cousin, Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) was the
crystallographer and Nobel Prize winner. The artist and art critic, Roger Fry
(1866-1934) was a cousin, and Howard Hodgkin grew up in a home full of Omega
Workshop objects produced by the Bloomsbury Set.
In 1940, at the age of eight, Howard Hodgkin was evacuated to New York and
stayed in a former governor's residence on Long Island. Friends of his mother
took him on his first visit to an art gallery, the Museum of Modern Art.
After the Second World War a rich relative paid for him to go to Eton. His
art teacher was Wilfred Blunt, the brother of the art critic and spy, Anthony Blunt.
He was unhappy at Eton and kept running away. After a session with a
psychiatrist he transferred to Bryanston. His new art teacher was Charles
His parents paid for him to go to Camberwell Art School (1949-1950), and then
to Bath Academy of Art Corsham (1950-1954), where he later taught.
He was a teacher at Charterhouse from 1954 to 1956.
In 1955 he married Julia Lane and they had two sons. One became a television
He taught at Bath Academy of Art Corsham from 1955 to 1966.
In 1962 Howard Hodgkin had his first one-man show in London.
He taught at Chelsea School of Art from 1966 to 1972. He was a visiting
lecturer at Slade and Chelsea Schools of Art from 1976 to 1977, and he was also
artist in residence at Brasenose College Oxford from 1976 to 1977.
He was a trustee of the Tate Gallery London from 1970 to 1976.
His first big retrospective was in 1976.
He was appointed as a trustee of the Tate Gallery and made a CBE in 1977.
He was a trustee of the National Gallery London from 1978 to 1985.
In his forties he spent some time in India and took an interest in the
traditional painting of that country.
When back in England he fell ill with amoebiasis, a parasite that he had
picked up eight years earlier in India. After a major operation he went through
a period of depression.
Soon afterwards he decided that he was gay and he left his wife. For a time
his love-life became public as he seemed to fall in love with unsuitable men.
However, in 1983 he settled down with the music writer Antony Peattie.
He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1984.
He won the Turner Prize for contemporary art in 1985.
He received his knighthood in 1992.
A new exhibition of his work was displayed at the Hayward Gallery, London, in
He is well-known for his prints, and the Tate Gallery, London, has a
collection of his work.
His design, New worlds, was used by the Royal Mail in 1999 for the 64
pence British postage stamp in its quartet of stamps celebrating the end of the
millennium. An enlarged colour reproduction of the stamp was shown in The
Sunday Times Magazine, 14th. November, 1999, page 70.
He was a friend of Bruce Chatwin for
more than 20 years, and Bruce Chatwin wrote about him in What Am I Doing
He was awarded an honorary DLitt by Oxford University on 28th. June 2000.
He was made a Companion of Honour for "services to art" in the 2003 New Year
- Howard Hodgkin: New Paintings, Anthony d'Offay Gallery Derring
Street, London, W1, 15th. November, 1999 to 15th. January, 2000.
- Howard Hodgkin, Dulwich Picture Gallery, south London, 26th. June
to 19th. August, 2001.
- Conversations with greatness by Michael Glover in
The Independent: The Thursday Review, 21st. June, 2001, page 11.
"This is not an exhibition of new works by Howard Hodgkin at the Dulwich
Picture Gallery, although most of them will not have seen in this country
before. They will be dotted about here and there, interspersed with Old
Master paintings. One Hodgkin will sit between two paintings by Poussin, for
example. Another couple will hang alongside the paintings by Cuyps and
Pynacker. Yet another will have an extended conversation with an unusual
Canaletto of a rural English scene. Hodgkin is relishing the challenge of
being jostled by the Old Masters. 'My paintings will probably be treated
rudely, in most cases totally destroyed, but that's the risk one has to
- Memoirs, 1949.
- Rain, 1959, (Tate Gallery, London).
- Interior with Figures, 1977-84.
- A Storm 1977, a lithograph (displayed in Culture Secretary Chris Smith's
- For Bernard Jacobson, 1979, (Tate Gallery, London)
- Small Chez Max, 1989-97.
- Black and white mural of the banyan tree on the British Council
headquarters in New Delhi, 1992
- Howard Hodgkin Paintings, 1995, compiled by Michael Auping, John
Elderfield, and Susan Sontag; Harry N. Abrams Publishers, 216 pages, ISBN
- A Henry Moore at the Bottom of the Garden
- Memories, 1997-99.
- The Green Chateau.
- In Tangier.
- Dinner in Palazzo Albrizzi.
- On The Riviera.
- After Visiting David Hockney.
- Kathy at the Ritz.
- Autumn Leaves.
- Night and Day.
- Mural on the outside of the Imax Cinema, Waterloo, London.
- Evening Sea, 1998.
- Moonlight, 1998-9.
- Theatre, 1998-9.
- Learning about Russian Music, 1999.
- End of the Day, 1999.
- New worlds, 1999, design used for the 64 pence Royal Mail postage
stamp celebrating the end of the millennium.
- Commission for the opening of Tate Modern, 2000.
- Seurat's Bathers, 2000.
- Dirty Mirror, 2000, oil on card.
- North Sea, 2000, oil on wood.
- Grass, 1998-2001, oil on wood.
- Stormy Weather, 1993-2001, oil on wood.
- G. G. Filippi, (1997), "Howard Hodgkin: Indian
Miniatures", Art Books International, ISBN 8843561383
- Andrew Graham-Dixon, (1994), "Howard Hodgkin", Thames and
Hudson, 192 pages, ISBN 0500277699 (paperback).
- (2001), reprint with updates and revisions, Thames and Hudson.
- Andrew Topsfield and Cleveland Beach, (1992), "Indian
Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Howard Hodgkin", Thames and
Hudson, 112 pages, ISBN 0500978379 (paperback)
- Synopsis: "Howard Hodgkin progressively refined his
collection of Indian pictures over a period of more than 30 years. Its main
strength lies in the Rajput schools, especially in those areas where the
robust Rajput ethos and the imperial Mughul aesthetic overlapped and
interfused, including a group of the animated elephant and hunting scenes
from the court of Kota in Rajasthan. As a whole, the collection provides an
unconventional and illuminating view of the expressive powers of Indian
- "Perhaps it's simply a coincidence, a statistical fluke, or just something
in the water, but it so happens that the three most important post-War British
painters have all been homosexuals."
"First came Francis Bacon, all
squealing pontiffs and wrestling boys, followed by David Hockney with
his altogether more demure sun-tanned and svelte male studies. The third, and
most elusive of the three great gays, is Sir Howard Hodgkin.", James Cary
Parkes, in Gay Times, December, 1996.
- Hodgkin's true colours by Lynn Barber in The Observer
Magazine, 31st. October, 1999, pages 44-51. The article includes colour
reproductions of the paintings Interior with Figures, (1977-84),
Small Chez Max, (1989-97), Moonlight, (1998-9), and Learning
about Russian Music, (1999). It also includes a colour photograph of the
Imax cinema in London, with a detail of the mural. "Sir Howard Hodgkin's
paintings are notoriously difficult to write about so I don't propose to,
beyond saying: go and see them, now, at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery in
"I asked how many great loves he'd had in his life and he said he'd never
counted. Was Bruce
Chatwin one? 'Certainly not. I knew him very well for a very long time but
he wasn't very sexually appealing. I mean, I knew him for nearly 25
years before we went to bed together. There was something appallingly English
about Bruce. People who are very narcissistic fancy themselves so much it
somehow gets in the way'."
- What's it all about, Sir Howard? by Martin Gayford in
The Independent: The Monday Review, 1st. November, 1999, page 10. The
article includes a colour reproduction of the painting Night and Day.
"His painting, apparently so straight-forward with its singing colour and
ebullient execution, contains hidden complexities, paradoxes, and mysteries,
Take, for example, this painting, 'The title', Hodgkin vouchsafes, 'is
Night and Day. Now, that is an important clue. The naming of the work -
unimportant for many artists, who prefer such tags as 'Untitled', or 'Number
32' - is crucial for Hodgkin. 'The title is totally important,' he explains
simply. 'It is what the painting is about.' On the other hand, he is reluctant
to expand on titles. And when he does so, the result can be disconcerting. A
painting called Tea, whose mysteries he once unwrapped a little in an
interview with David Sylvester, turned out to be not about crumpets and
Darjeeling. Or rather, it is about the former, but only in an unguessably
quirky fashion. It is about an ordinary, decorous tea party at which one of
the guests revealed that he was a male prostitute, and went on to describe his
life in detail. A precise visual memory such as this - of an occasion, a
place, a person, an emotional situation - is the starting point for each of
Hodgkin's paintings. He continues to paint it, and repaint it, making it
larger perhaps, working radical changes day by day, possibly for many years,
possibly for much less. He carries on until it has been transformed into a
combination of brush-strokes, shapes, light and colour - pared down to the
essence - which somehow 'brings the memory back'. 'What is important,' he
insists, 'is that what I feel, think and see turns into something. I mean,
ideally, it starts off in my head, and ends up a thing'."
- Howard's way by Jonathan Dyson in The Independent
Magazine, 6th. November, 1999, pages 53-55. The article includes colour
reproductions of the paintings Memories, (1997-98), Theatre,
(1998-99), and End of the Day, (1999). "Hodgkin himself won the Turner
in 1985. It's a measure of how much the art scene has changed since then that
he is now viewed by some as establishment: his paintings grace government
buildings, he is to be spotted at gatherings of the great and the good, while
recent public commissions have included the great mural for the British Film
Institute's new Imax cinema in London and New Worlds, for the Post
Office's millennium stamp series."
- Desperate pleasures by Jonathan Jones in The Guardian:
G2, 11th. November, 1999, pages 12-13. "Howard Hodgkin's new paintings are
a mess. At least, I thought so the first time I saw them. Crude, slapped-on
swathes of blue and green, bare patches of wood underneath, haphazard strokes
- where was the balance and delicacy of structure, the dance of vibrantly
contrasting colours that glowed on the walls at his 1997 Hayward
retrospective? That exhibition established Hodgkin as one of the most revered
painters working today. He remembers seeing the crowds outside and wondering
why they were there. It was an even bigger success at the Metropolitan Museum
in New York. Yet on the eve of his first London solo show since, Hodgkin's art
is undergoing a convulsive change."
"Born in London in 1932, he was 50 before he achieved the recognition he
enjoys today. And he still feels like an outsider - not 'famous' at all. He
became a cult figure during the expressionist 80s, but today he's gone way
beyond fashion, an artist without a category, a traditionalist who is
represented by the same dealer as Andy Warhol, Joseph
Beuys and Rachel Whitbread. And I want him to tell me what is going on in his
new paintings. This may be his best work. But some people will say it is his
worst. There is something very awry."
- Every daub has its day by Laura Cumming in The
Observer Review, 21st. November, 1999, page 11. "It may seem perverse to
ask for a more autobiographical drama from Hodgkin, especially since there is
so much visual excitement in these paintings. But many of them lack that
emotional inflection, that sense of an urgent private story pressing from
within. Without that, they are somehow less curious and absorbing. Mood
reduces to climate; theatre becomes an empty set."
- Shiny, happy pictures by Waldemar Januszczak in The
Sunday Times Culture Magazine, 21st. November, 1999, page 10. The article
includes colour reproductions of the paintings Evening Sea, (1998) and
Learning About Russian Music, (1999). "I totally support Chris Smith in his
recent attack on the more unsavoury aspects of British art. It is high time
somebody in government pointed out how scandalous it is that these so-called
Turner prizewinners are allowed to represent Britain abroad. Basically, they
are making money out of old rope. And let's not draw back from naming them
either. When it comes to passing off old rope for new art, no former Turner
prizewinner is as guilty as the artist who, alas, represented Britain at the
41st. Venice Biennale. The nation is behind you, Secretary of State, and owes
you its thanks, for outing Sir Howard Hodgkin as a poor thing. Oops. I've just
reread what Smith said. It seems he may have had other Turner prizewinners in
"Hodgkin is not the English Matisse. Rather, with his increasing
sentimentality, his cheerful colours, his obvious plot-lines, he is the Walt
Disney of British abstraction."
- Lessons in art and life A selection from a BBC Radio 3
interview between John Tusa and Howard Hodgkin in The Independent on
Sunday, 7th. May, 2000, page 16. The article also has a colour
reproduction of the painting For Bernard Jacobson.
- John Tusa You've been very generous in talking about
your work with many people. Do you find that useful? Do you find it easy?
Howard Hodgkin I don't find it easy as probably you will
discover. I think that words are often extraneous to what I do. But I work
in a country where I think that if I didn't talk about my work at all people
might not even bother to look at it. I think that words in this country are
paramount where the visual arts are concerned.
- Tate Modern. Exclusive: Howard Hodgkin's painting and James
Fenton's poem commissioned for today's opening in The
Guardian, 11th. May, 2000, page 1. Howard Hodgkin's painting is reproduced
in colour on the front page.
- A look back at past masters by Marina Wallace in The
Times Higher Education Supplement, 11th. August, 2000, pages 22-23. A
review of an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, in which living
artists were invited to produce work inspired by past masters. The article
includes a colour reproduction of Howard Hodgkin's Seurat's Bathers
inspired by Bathers at Asnières. "Among living 'colourists and
expressionists', Howard Hodgkin more than meets his match, undertaking a
close-to-source exploration of Georges Seurat's Bathers at Asnières
(1881) - the latter resting in the visual calm of a historic classicism, while
the former is animated by contemporary brushstrokes and heightened colours."
- True colours by Jonathan Meades in The Times
magazine, 31st. March, 2001, pages 32-37. Extracts of an interview in
Howard Hodgkin's Bloomsbury studio prior to his work being packed for the trip
to Milan for an exhibition at the Galleria Lawrence Rubin. The article
includes colour reproductions of Howard Hodgkin's paintings Dirty
Mirror, North Sea, Grass, and Stormy Weather.
- Singularly duplicated by John Russell Taylor in The
Times 2, 25th. April, 2001, pages 16-17. An article about the London
Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts, April, 2001. The article
includes a colour reproduction of Howard Hodgkin's painting Eye.
"Another contemporary gallery with a deal is Alan Cristea, which offers ten
etchings by Howard Hodgkin at prices ranging from £1,500 to £3,000."
- It's the vision thing by Tim Adams in The Observer
Review, 10th June, 2001, page 3. "It's tempting to begin to think of
Howard Hodgkin as a last survivor. When he was in New York recently he was
asked to give a lecture. He wasn't sure what he would talk about. 'And they
said, 'Well, couldn't you talk about painting. You see, nobody does it any
- New Year Honours: Arts by John Ezard in The
Guardian, 31st. December, 2002, page 10. "The more senior ranks of the
Companionship of Honour are swelled by two distinguished art world veterans,
the abstract painter Sir Howard Hodgkin, 70, and the art historian Sir Denis
Mahon, 92. Hodgkin, descendent of the discoverer of Hodgkin's disease and
cousin of a Nobel prizewinner, held his first one-man show in 1962. He won the
Turner prize in 1985."
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