Born in 1932 in London, UK, Howard Hodgkin studied at Camberwell School of Art, London and the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, between 1949 and 1954. He was initally associated with the British Pop Art movement, but his later work is influenced by Fernand Leger's 'tubism' and likened by himself to 'representational appearances of emotional situations' such as memories of meals in restaraunts, and holidays to Italy,Morocco and India. The feelings he espresses in his paintings are captured in intense colors; remembered people and objects are transformed into expressive splotches, swirls and blobs of paint. The paintings tend to be objects: thick wooden boards, never canvas, and heavily framed. His work seems spontaneous, but they are often the outcome of several years of layering and repainting. He won the Turner Prize in 1983, and some of his better known pieces include :-

Grantchester Road, 1975
A Small Thing but My Own, 1983-85,
Dinner in Palazzo Albrizzi, 1984-88,
Gossip, 1994-95,

More examples of his work can be seen at

Characteristically, the painting includes a very wide wooden frame but this is included in the painting, that is painted over. Sometimes this contributes to the pictorial effect, such as of a house or window or arbour in a garden or other such framing device, but it is often not explicit. The frame is not painted separately, it is just a bumpy or multi-levelled background. The abstraction increases in his later work; earlier works did have decorated frames, and earlier still (mid 1970s?) he hadn't yet got his distinctive style, and he may look like somewhat disjointed Bonnard.

Sir Howard Hodgkin's pictures can almost always be treated as pure abstract: they are vast, heavy swathes of intense colours such as carmine, viridian, tangerine, kingfisher blue, cadmium yellow, often with grey and black piled on as if they were just as bright. The years' worth of repainting he often does mean there are concealed layers of great delicacy peeping out from the edges of the current dominant blocks.

But although they're abstract, they're often also representational, and actually look like what they're named for. A rainy day, says the label, and you can see the vast torrents of grey amid the lush green of the garden. A dancer at practice, after Degas, it says, and you realize that, though there is not actually the figure of a dancer to be clearly discerned, yet he's used shades of orange, vermilion, and dull reds in such a way as to convey exactly the pastel shades of familiar Degas originals.

In the Bay of Naples is busy and colourful in just the way you'd expect a figurative picture of that name to be: the Mediterranean blues of the Bay, the gaudy colours of the boats, the swirl of waves, the pink and black of a storm... yet joined together as abstract elements which somehow convey it all without needing figures.

See many pictures at Mark Harden's Artchive, at

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