Howard Hodgkin was born in Hammersmith, London. He studied at the Camberwell Art School and later at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, and his first solo show was in London in 1962.
Regarded as one of the outstanding colourists in contemporary painting, Hodgkin’s images could appear completely abstract but were based on specific events, such as encounters between people. A feature of his painting was his incorporation of the frame, making it intrinsic to the work. Hodgkin established himself as a printmaker in the late 1970s, when he recognized prints as equivalents for his paintings and qualifying as things in their own right.
Determined to force boundaries and avoid the fussiness of traditional printmaking, Hodgkin began using carborundum, a sticky substance which is applied directly to the printing plate using brush or fingers, producing a rich textured mark. His set of four Venetian Views, produced in 1995, combined carborundum with etching and aquatint. Another existing technique which made his own was hand-colouring, allowing him to brighten up a monochrome print. Collectively, such devices were used to immerse the viewer in colours and forms.
A major exhibition of Hodgkin’s work was mounted at Tate Britain in 2006. He was a well-known figure in the art world, serving as a Trustee of the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery, and in 1985 he was the second recipient of the Turner Prize. He was awarded the CBE in 1977 and knighted in 1992, and made a Companion of Honour in 2003 for his services to art.
Written by Richard Wolfe