Howard Hodgkin

Apparently I’m out-of-touch with the British contemporary art scene. Last night I was watching a clip from Simon Schama’s “Power of Art” series (don’t hate me, heidenkind!), and Schama mentioned that the artist Howard Hodgkin is of Van Gogh’s “progeny” (in terms of Expressionism).

I had to rewind the DVD – Howard who?

Howard Hodgkin. You know, one of the foremost British painters today. [Silence.]

So, in order to educate myself, I looked up some of Hodgkin’s work this evening. Part of me wonders if I have seen his stuff before, since he has painted scenery for the Mark Morris Dance Group. Anyhow, here are some of Hodgkin’s paintings that I particularly liked:

Howard Hodgkin, Night and Day, 1997-99
This painting was exhibited in 2006 with an exhibition of Hodgkin’s work at the Tate Modern

Howard Hodgkin, Memories, 1997-99
You can read more about this painting here. I think it’s particularly interesting that Hodgkin often paints his frames (in addition to the canvas). I think this can tie into interesting ideas about objecthood and subjecthood, particuarly since the frame is no longer “containing” or “highlighting” the painting – it is part of the painting itself.

Howard Hodgkin, Curtain, 2002-07
I like this painting because it makes me think, “What would happen if you combined a Rothko painting with Edward Munch’s The Scream?” And I also like the bits of blue that peek out from underneath the black swath of color.

Have you heard of Hodgkin before? Which of his works do you particularly like?
  • Emperor of EUtopia says:

    I also find it interesting that he paints the frames. It makes me want to go paint. My favorite is the last one. My first thought when I saw it was that it actually reminds me of the classic star trek episode (coincidentally the only one I've actually seen) called "The Trouble with Tribbles".

  • Breanne says:

    I haven't heard of him either, but I do like the pieces that you posted here. Do you think artistic talent could be genetic?

  • Kiersten says:

    I hadn't heard of him before, but I know that I've seen his works in museums because the painted frames are pretty memorable. My favorite is the second on, Memories. I like all the bright colors in that one.

  • e says:

    I think it is really neat that he paints the frames. What an interesting touch it adds. Do any other artists do that? I think it is cool.

    I think "Memories" is very striking. Reading the link you gave and how it said that he paints about particular memories is very fascinating. How cool to be able to capture the feeling associated with the a memory in such a way (even if it does take him several years). I like it.

  • heidenkind says:

    Ha, that last painting also reminded me of The Scream.

    I have never heard of Howard Hodgkin. That bit of the Power of Art must have slipped right past me. Expressionism is sooooo early twentieth century. 😉

    If you're going to paint frames, why bother with frames at all? Just paint the canvas. I suppose if you buy a painting you expect a frame with it, though….

  • Davidikus says:

    Don't worry! Howard Hodgkin is a local celebrity rather than an international one. Few people outside the UK are likely to have heard of him. And to be honest, rightly so: his work is interesting and fresh but not mind-blowing – it is too much of a rip-off of early 20C art. London is full of 'world-leading' this and that (including artists), except they are only 'world-leading' this and that in London. In British English, 'world-leading' must mean 'purely British and insular'. ;-D

  • M says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only person who wasn't aware of Hodgkin.

    And thanks for making me feel better about my ignorance, Davidikus! You're right about Hodgkin being a rip-off of other 20th century artists. My husband called Hodgkin a "non-offensive De Kooning."

  • Marcia Miner says:

    Great blog…and always love to see something not quite seen in a paintng at first as the bit of blue

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.