Howard Hodgkin

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Howard Hodgkin

Hodgkin in 1987
Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin

(1932-08-06)6 August 1932
Hammersmith, London, England[1]
Died9 March 2017(2017-03-09) (aged 84)
London, England
EducationCamberwell Art School
Bath Academy of Art
Known forPainting, printmaking
AwardsTurner Prize (1985)[1]

Sir Gordon Howard Eliott Hodgkin CH CBE (6 August 1932 – 9 March 2017) was a British painter and printmaker. His work is most often associated with abstraction.

Early life[edit]

Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin was born on 6 August 1932[1] in Hammersmith, London, the son of Eliot Hodgkin (1905–1973), a manager for the chemical company ICI and an amateur horticulturist, and his wife Katherine, a botanical illustrator.[2][3] During the Second World War, Eliot Hodgkin was an RAF officer, rising to Wing Commander, and was assistant to Sefton Delmer in running his black propaganda campaign against Nazi Germany.[4]

His maternal grandfather Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart was a journalist, lawyer, Member of Parliament (MP) and Lord Chief Justice; and the scientist Thomas Hodgkin was his great-great-grandfather's older brother.[5] Hodgkin was a cousin of the English still life painter Eliot Hodgkin (1905–1987).[6]

During the Second World War, Hodgkin was evacuated with his mother and sister to the US, where they lived on Long Island, New York.[7] On returning, he was educated at Eton College[8] and then at Bryanston School in Dorset.[1] He had decided on a career in art in early childhood and ran away from school to pursue this.[7]

He studied at the Camberwell Art School[8] and later at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham,[1] where Edward Piper studied drawing under him.[9][10]


Swimming was one of twelve artworks by UK artists chosen for the 2012 London Olympics.[11]

Memoirs (1949), one of Hodgkin's earliest recorded paintings, shows the artist, then aged 17, listening to a female figure reclining on a sofa. Painted with angular forms and black outlines, the work precedes Hodgkin's distinct abstract style.

Hodgkin's first solo show was in London in 1962.[12]

In 1980, Hodgkin was invited by John Hoyland to exhibit work as part of the Hayward Annual at the Hayward Gallery along with Gillian Ayres, Basil Beattie, Terry Setch, Anthony Caro, Patrick Caulfield, Ben Nicholson and others.[13][14]

In 1981, Hodgkin had collaborated with the Rambert Dance Company's Resident Choreographer, Richard Alston, for his abstract work 1981 for the production of Night Music and later for the production of Pulcinella in 1987.

In 1984, Hodgkin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, in 1985 he won the Turner Prize, and in 1992 he was knighted.[2]

British Council in India[edit]

Hodgkin was invited to design a mural for the front of Charles Correa's 1992 headquarters for the British Council in India. Hodgkin's mural is of a banyan tree spreading its branches across the walls. It is a symbol of the British Council's work rooted in the Indian cultural scene. Hodgkin said of Correa: “Charles Correa is the most perfect architect you could imagine. He first suggested that I think about the mural as an Indian flag turning into a Union Jack. I said no.”[15]

In 1995, Hodgkin printed the Venetian Views series, which depict the same view of Venice at four different times of day. Venice, Afternoon – one of the four prints – uses 16 sheets, or fragments, in a hugely complex printing process that creates a colourful, painterly effect. This piece was given to the Yale Centre of British Art in June 2006 by its Israeli family owners in order to complement the museum's already-impressive collection of Hodgkins.[16]

A major exhibition of his work was mounted at Tate Britain, London, in 2006. Also in 2006, The Independent declared him one of the 100 most influential gay people in Britain, as his work has helped many people express their emotions to others.[17]

In September 2010, Hodgkin and five other British artists, John Hoyland, John Walker, Ian Stephenson, Patrick Caulfield and R.B. Kitaj, were in an exhibition entitled The Independent Eye: Contemporary British Art From the Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie, at the Yale Center for British Art.[18][19]

British Council Delhi Headquarters, launch of Mix The city, 6 April 2017

Before his death on 9 March 2017 he was working on two UK exhibitions, one at the Hepworth Wakefield,[20] and another at the National Portrait Gallery.[21]

His prints were hand-painted etchings and he worked with the master printer Jack Shirreff at 107 Workshop.[22]

A feature of his painting was that he made the frame intrinsic to the work "incorporated physically into the painting as part of its making, or created as an illusion to give definition to his subject."[23]

National Life Stories conducted an oral history interview (C466/286) with Howard Hodgkin between 2008 and 2017 for its Artists' Lives collection held by the British Library.[24]


Hodgkin was appointed a CBE in 1977, and he was knighted in 1992.[2] He received an honorary fellowship from the London Institute in 1999.[2] In 2000, he was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Oxford.[2] He was made a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2003 New Year Honours for his services to art.[25] Hodgkin was named 2014 Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon.[26]

Personal life[edit]

In 1955, Hodgkin married Julia Lane, by whom he had two children.[12] Hodgkin knew he was gay, even when he was married, and later left his wife. In 2009, The Independent reported that he had been with his partner, the music writer Antony Peattie, for 20 years.[27] They lived in a four-storey Georgian house in Bloomsbury, near the British Museum.[28]


On 9 March 2017, Hodgkin died at the age of 84 in a hospital in London.[29][30] Tributes to him were made by several figures in British art, including Tate director Nicholas Serota.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Chronology". Howard Hodgkin. 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wroe, Nicholas (24 March 2001). "The colour of emotion". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  3. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (27 July 2012). "'There's less time, so on one goes' Howard Hodgkin at 80". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Lee Richards (2010). The Black Art: British Clandestine Psychological Warfare against the Third Reich. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-0-9542936-2-8. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin was born on 6 August in Hammersmith, London. His first name came from his maternal grandfather, Gordon Hewart, a draper – Howard Hodgkin". Archived from the original on 12 March 2017.
  6. ^ Eliot Hodgkin Painter & Collector. Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox. 1990. ISBN 0-9512493-6-3.
  7. ^ a b c "Sir Howard Hodgkin: Turner winner and abstract artist dies at 84". BBC. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b Davies, Lucy (9 March 2017). "Howard Hodgkin interview: 'The older I get, the more I am afraid of this great void coming up'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  9. ^ Windsor, Alan (1998). Handbook of Modern British Painting and Printmaking 1900–1990 (2 ed.). Ashgate. p. 248. ISBN 9780853318439.
  10. ^ The Artist. Billboard Limited. 1989. p. 14.
  11. ^ "London 2012 Olympics posters revealed". BBC. 4 November 2011.
  12. ^ a b "The Knitting Circle: Art".
  13. ^ "Home – Howard Hodgkin".
  14. ^ Hoyland, John, 1934–; Arts Council of Great Britain; Hayward Gallery (1980), Hayward annual 1980 : contemporary painting and sculpture, Arts Council of Great Britain, ISBN 978-0-7287-0247-9{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Niesewand, Nonie (10 March 2017). "Howard Hodgkin: 1932–2017". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  16. ^ Woolmer, Sussanah. "Acquisition of the Month: Howard Hodgkin's 'Venice, Afternoon'" Archived 11 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Apollo Magazine, 1 January 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  17. ^ The Independent (2 July 2006), "Gay Power: The pink list" Archived 7 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
  18. ^ Wilkin, Karen, "Channeling American Abstraction", The Wall Street Journal, 28 September 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  19. ^ Schwendener, Martha, "Echoes From a Distant Contemporary Past" (exhibition review), The New York Times, 10 December 2010.Retrieved 15 December 2010
  20. ^ "Howard Hodgkin: Painting India | What's On | Hepworth Wakefield". Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends – Home". Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  22. ^ "A compelling printmaker". Financial Times. 11 December 2009. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  23. ^ Serota, Nicholas, "Howard Hodgkin: Bold, unconventional and uncompromising", Independent, 12 June 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  24. ^ Sound and Moving Image Catalogue Copyright © The British Library Board, 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017
  25. ^ "New Year Honours – part 4". The Guardian. 31 December 2002. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  26. ^ Art Icon 2014: Howard Hodgkin
  27. ^ Patterson, Christina (16 January 2009). "Howard Hodgkin: 'I want to set things straight'". The Independent. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  28. ^ Ria Higgins (12 October 2014). "A Life in the Day: Sir Howard Hodgkin, artist". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  29. ^ Brown, Mark (9 March 2017). "Painter Howard Hodgkin dies aged 84". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Turner Prize-winning artist Howard Hodgkin dies aged 84". The Telegraph. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.

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