In Memoriam: British abstract artist Howard Hodgkin, 84

Howard Hodgkin by Marcella Leith, Tate Photography


LONDON – The Tate museum is reporting the death earlier today, March 9, of Howard Hodgkin.

Howard Hodgkin is widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest artists and has been a central figure in contemporary art for over half a century.

He was born in London in 1932, he studied at the Camberwell School of Art between 1949-50, followed by the Bath Academy of Art between 1950-54, where he later taught for many years. He served as an influential trustee of Tate (1970-76) and the National Gallery (1978-85). In 1984 he represented Britain at the XLI Venice Biennale and he was awarded the Turner Prize in 1985.

His first retrospective was curated by Nicholas Serota at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1976. His work has been the subject of numerous major retrospectives most notably at the Metropolitan Museum, New York (1995), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2002) Tate Britain, London (2006), The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006) and the Reina Sofia, Madrid (2007).

His paintings and prints are held by most major museums including Tate, London; British Museum, London; Metropolitan Museum, New York; MoMA, New York and Philadelphia Museum of Art. He designed the set and costumes for several opera and ballet productions including most recently Layla and Majnun performed by the Mark Morris Dance company in 2016. He was knighted in 1992, awarded the Shakespeare Prize in Hamburg in 1997 and made a Companion of Honour in 2002.

Tate Director Nicholas Serota said: “Howard Hodgkin was one of the great artists and colorists of his generation. His sensuous, intense paintings were infused with his love and understanding of late 19th century French painting, especially Degas, Vuillard and Bonnard, and by his feeling for the heat and colors of India, which he visited on many occasions. Over the past 30 years Howard’s international standing has continued to grow with major exhibitions in Europe and America. His characteristic subject, the memory of a meeting or a conversation with a friend, resulted in paintings that radiate the emotions of life: love, anger, vanity, beauty and companionship.”

The first exhibition of portraits by Hodgkin, “Absent Friends,” will go on show at the National Portrait Gallery, London from  March 23 to June 18. This is followed by, “Painting India,” exploring the influence of India on the artist’s work, at the Hepworth Wakefield from  July 1 to Oct. 8 and “Howard Hodgkin: India on Paper” at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath from Oct. 14 to Jan. 7.