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Howard Eliot Hodgkin

 (1932 - 2017)
Howard Eliot Hodgkin was active/lived in New York / United Kingdom.  Howard Hodgkin is known for abstract painting and printmaking.

Biography  
Howard Eliot Hodgkin

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Biography from the Archives of askART

"Howard Hodgkin, Whose Paintings Were Coded With Emotion, Dies at 84"
By William Grimes, March 9, 2017, Obituary, The New York Times

Howard Hodgkin, a British artist whose lush, semi-abstract paintings, aquiver with implicit drama, established him as one of the most admired artists of the postwar period, died on Thursday in London. He was 84.

The Tate Galleries announced his death but did not specify a cause.

Mr. Hodgkin was a relative latecomer to fame. A slow, methodical worker who could spend years building up a painting’s surface, he did not have a solo show until he was 30, and for years thereafter toiled against the grain, his work at odds with prevailing fashion.

His globs and stipples and smears — seemingly brisk and impulsive, but painstakingly applied and endlessly revised — ravished. On the Tate’s website, Nicholas Serota, the departing director of the museums, called Mr. Hodgkin “one of the great artists and colorists of his generation.”

But his coded emotional settings seemed elusive, even baffling, as did his stylistic relationship to current art. In Britain he was seen as an abstract painter, in the United States as representational — a puzzle.

“I never expected anyone to be interested in my pictures, and there were years when I couldn’t even get my friends to look at them,” Mr. Hodgkin told The New York Times in 1990.

His paintings in the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale* in 1984 propelled him into the top echelon of international artists. Seductive and arresting, they showed an artist at the height of his powers, and audiences responded.

“Not since Robert Rauschenberg’s appearance at the Biennale 20 ago has a show by a single painter so hogged the attention of visitors, or looked so effortlessly superior to everything else on view by living artists,” the critic Robert Hughes wrote in Time magazine.

He added: “Here the wearisome traits of much contemporary art, its honking rhetoric, its unconvincing urgency, its arid ‘appropriations’ of motifs, are left at the door, and the slow-surfacing complexities of mature, articulate painting greet the eye.”

Mr. Hodgkin won the Turner Prize* a year later, and as major gallery and museum exhibitions in Britain and the United States followed, one after the other, his distinctive blend of bravura brushwork, emotional depth and sense of mystery began to hold sway.

He came to be seen as a highly original interpreter of the dramas that unfold in intimate, interior space, an heir to Bonnard and Vuillard.

“On the subject of sitting rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and balconies neither Hodgkin’s eye nor his hand has ever failed him,” the critic John Russell wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1990. “He is all-seeing on the subject of hotels, restaurants, private collections, public parks, costume jewelry, human exchanges of all kinds and day-to-day weather reporting. Manners and mores, ups and downs, ins and outs — all have their place in his paintings.

“He can make a wet afternoon in summer feel like the most blissful thing that ever happened,” he continued, “and when he summons up the quintessence of a restaurant (in London, by the way, not in Paris) he makes us want to stand up and shout for the menu.”

Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin was born in London on Aug. 6, 1932, to a Quaker family with an illustrious pedigree in the arts and sciences. His father, Eliot, was a manager at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and a well-known horticulturalist. His mother, the former Katharine Hewart, daughter of the Lord Chief Justice of England, Gordon Hewart, was a homemaker and botanical illustrator.

With German air raids looming, Howard was evacuated in 1940 with his mother and sister to Long Island, where he stayed with family friends for three years.

After returning to Britain, he attended a variety of expensive schools, including Eton, and ran away from most of them, finding little encouragement for his determination to become an artist — his goal since the age of 5.

He painted on his own, and during a return visit to Long Island in 1947, he began going to galleries and museums in New York City, looking closely at the work of Matisse, Degas, Bonnard and Vuillard. One of his earliest works, the 1949 gouache “Memoirs,” served as a marker for the themes that would preoccupy him in the coming years.

Judith Higgins wrote in Art News in 1985, “Highly stylized, fiercely outlined and angular, humming with erotic currents, ‘Memoirs’ announced the subject of all Hodgkin’s subsequent work: the great tradition in French painting — figures in an interior — transmuted, in Hodgkin’s case, by memory.”

In 1949 he gained admission to the Camberwell School of Art in London, where he studied briefly under Victor Pasmore and William Coldstream, the leading figures in the Euston Road School. He spent four years at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, where he studied with Clifford Ellis.

In 1955 he married Julia Lane, a fellow student at Corsham. They later separated. He is survived by their two sons, Louis and Sam.

Mr. Hodgkin was given a one-man show at Arthur Tooth and Sons in 1962, but for years he depended on teaching to make a living. In the mid-1950s he began lecturing at Charterhouse School. He later taught at the Bath Academy of Art and the Chelsea School of Art.

He produced mostly small-scale works until late in his career, on canvas at first but, beginning in the late 1960s, only on wood, usually old boards scavenged from London antique shops. In violation of the tenets of American abstraction, he embraced the frame, emphasizing its presence by painting on it directly, or including framing rectangles in the painting.

The strongly geometric forms of the early painting evolved into looser, brushier images that teased the idea of figuration. In Jealousy (1977), a red mass, barely human, coils angrily within a frame-like rectangle. The leaning, spotted rectangles in Dinner at Smith Square (1975-79) suggest, just barely, two people conversing over a table.

“I am a representational painter but not a painter of appearances,” Mr. Hodgkin told the critic David Sylvester in 1976. “I paint representational pictures of emotional situations.”

His reputation grew. He had his first show in New York in 1973, and in 1976 Mr. Serota organized his first museum exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. In 1995 the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the traveling exhibition “Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 1975–1995,” and in 2006 Tate Britain mounted a 50-year survey of his work.

If Mr. Hodgkin never quite rose to the celebrity rank of Lucian Freud or David Hockney, by the time he was knighted, in 1992, he stood at the threshold of “living treasure” status.

“To be an honest artist now, you have to make your own language, and for me that has taken a very long time,” he told Mr. Sylvester for the catalog to Howard Hodgkin: Forty Paintings, 1973-84, a traveling exhibition that incorporated many of the paintings from the Biennale.

Mr. Hodgkin was an interviewer’s nightmare, notoriously reticent about his work and unhappy analyzing its meaning. He made it clear that art was a slow and painful business. At the same time, he confessed to feeling a sense of exhilaration in his final years.

“I don’t care a damn about what happens when I’m dead, but I do have a sense of increased urgency,” he told The Guardian in 2001. “And I think it’s made me more courageous.”


* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.asp


Biography from the Archives of askART
Howard Hodgkin was born in England into a prominent Quaker family of scientists, connoisseurs, collectors and classifiers, all mentally energetic. Among his forbears are the father of meteorology and the physician who described Hodgkin's disease. His father was a distinguished horticulturist. His cousin Margery Fry is a sister to Roger Fry.

Hodgkin spent part of his childhood on Long Island, a refugee from wartime London. In time he returned to England, attended art school at the Camberwell School for a year and then at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham for four years. By the time he was fifteen, Hodgkin had run away from five schools, giving as the reason that he wanted to be an artist. A psychiatrist persuaded his family to allow him to return to Long Island, New York. It was there that he first encountered old masters at the Metropolitan Museum and the great Modernists at Museum of Modern Art.

By the late 1950s Hodgkin had married a fellow student, Julia Lane, and had two sons. He was teaching art, first at Charthouse and then at Bath Academy. He taught at the Chelsea School of Art until 1972, when he gave up teaching.

Hodgkin is a small and somewhat pear-shaped man, with ruddy cheeks and gray-white hair, with pale, almost metallic blue eyes. He paints gorgeously chromatic almost abstract accounts of his own life. Each is a rendition of a private moment of emotion, which was itself produced by a certain combination of light and space. He paints extremely slowly, or rather, repaints and repaints again, using wood instead of canvas.

He was forty-five before he had his fist major solo show in New York and fifty-two when his exhibition in the British Pavilion of the Venice Biennale brought him to the art world's attention. It is the French artist Vuillard who is the main historical presence in Hodgkin's work. His pictures may look abstract, but he does not consider himself an abstract artist. His paintings also have an unusual scale. In an age that favors the large work, they are modestly sized, yet seem quite large. He paints in passionate colors - dots and swirls and waves and zigzags and planes and streaks of color that spilled onto the frames.

The double-entry dates of the paintings indicated that they had taken three or more years to complete. Hodgkin does all his painting in England - in his Bloomsbury house opposite the British Museum or in his mill house in Wiltshire - but his professional life has taken place almost entirely in New York.

Written and submitted September 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:

Mark Stevens in Newsweek, December 2, 1984
Judith Higgins in Art News, Summer 1985
Harper's Bazaar, December 1994
Hodgkin's Sobtexts by Brooks Adams in "Art in America", May 1996


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Self-portrait




About  Howard Eliot Hodgkin

Born:  1932 - Purley, Berkshire, England
Died:   2017 - London, England
Known for:  abstract painting and printmaking