Described as being “a central figure in contemporary art for over half a century” by the Tate Galleries, British artist Sir Howard Hodgkin died on the 9th March 2017 in a hospital bed in London, aged 84.
Speaking to the BBC, Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, described Hodgkin as being “one of the greatest artists and colourists 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 colours of India, which he visited on many occasions. 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.”
In 1985, Sir Howard Hodgkin won the Turner Prize, an award gifted to artists under the age of 50 and named after British painter, J.M.W Turner, having represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale the year before.
In 1992, Sir Howard Hogkin received a knighthood. His work can be seen decorating the walls of major galleries and museums in every corner of the world, ranging from the British Museum and the Tate to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the coming months, two of Sir Howard’s paintings will be opening in the UK.
Sir Howard’s death comes at an unfortunate time – between the 23rd March and the 18th June, the National Portrait Gallery opens its first exhibition by the artist, entitled “Howard Hodgkins: Absent Friends.” This collection features over 50 of Sir Howard’s finest works, dating as far back as 1949, right up to present day. This collection includes portraits of his peers, David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield and RB Kitaj.
In June, works Sir Howard produced on his latest venture to India are due to go on display at The Hepworth Wakefield, entitled “Howard Hogkins: Painting India.”
Speaking to the BBC, Director of the Hepworth, Simon Wallis, spoke about Sir Howard, describing how he was “deeply saddened” by the artist’s passing, describing him as being “one of the most important artists of our time.”
Speaking about the Painting India exhibition, Simon added, “We are enormously grateful for Howard’s generosity with his time and his enthusiasm. We are proud to be realising an exhibition about the influence of India on his work, a place that he was so passionate about, and from which he drew such inspiration throughout his life.”
Upon Painting India’s announcement, Sir Howard had commented, “I fell in love with Indian art when I was at school, thanks to the enterprising art master, Wilfrid Blunt. I longed to visit India, but only managed to do so in my early 20s. It proved a revelation. It changed my way of thinking and, probably, the way I paint.”
No stranger to the limelight, Sir Howard was responsible for one of 12 posters promoting the 2012 London Olympics. Sir Howard’s contribution came in the form of aptly named ‘Swimming’, a piece which depicted a figure swimming through the water.
In 2012, in an interview with the BBC, Sir Howard had described how he was looking forward to his death, adding “Death is always hovering in the distance. I want to get out as much as I can.”
Howard is survived by his spouse Julia Lane, and his two children, Louis and Sam Hodgkin.