Howard Hodgkin



Not on display

Howard Hodgkin 1932–2017
Etching, aquatint and hand colouring on paper
Image: 445 × 556 mm
Purchased 1984

Display caption

Like many of Hodgkin’s prints, Nick affords a glimpse into a private and erotic world. The rudiments of a room are visible through the open shutters and horizontal slats: a wall, a floor and a lamp. The pink arching form on the right is a man, presumably Nick, taking his shirt off.

This print has often been considered as the start of Hodgkin’s mature graphic work. The new freedom with which the printed marks appear to have been made reflects his discovery of soft-ground etching and hand colouring.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Howard Hodgkin born 1932

P77044 Nick 1977

Etching and aquatint with hand colouring 445 x 556 (17 3/8 x 21 7/8) on Crisbrook hand made paper 470 x 581 (18 1/2 x 22 7/8); printed and hand coloured by Maurice Payne at Petersburg Press Studio and published by Petersburg Press in an edition of 100
Inscribed ‘Hodgkin 77' below image b.r. and ‘14/100' below image b.l.
Purchased from Petersburg Press (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Exh: Howard Hodgkin: Prints 1977-1983, Tate Gallery, Sept.-Dec. 1985 (1, repr. in col.)
Lit: Pat Gilmour, ‘Howard Hodgkin', Print Collector's Newsletter, vol. 12, March-April 1981, p.3; Richard Morphet, ‘Introduction' in [Elizabeth Knowles (ed.)], Howard Hodgkin: Prints 1977-1983, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, 1985, pp.9 and 13, repr. p.29 (col.) and p.51; Judith Dunham, ‘Howard Hodgkin's Accumulated Memories', Print News, vol.8, Winter 1986, p.6, repr. p.7; Teresa Gleadowe, ‘Introduction' in Howard Hodgkin: Gravuruas 1977-83, exh. cat., Museu Nacional de Belos Artes, Rio de Janeiro 1987, n.p.; Jeremy Lewison, ‘Howard Hodgkin', Carte d'Arte, no. 0, 1987, p.20, repr. p.21

This, and the following entries, are based on a conversation between the artist and the compiler on 26 November 1987 and have been approved by the artist.

P77044 is widely regarded as Hodgkin's first ‘mature' print. Although ‘Julian and Alexis', 1977 (repr. Tate Gallery 1985 p.52 no.6), is the first print finished with hand colouring by the artist, ‘Nick' is the earliest example of Hodgkin's use of an assistant, directed and unaided, handcolouring the print. Almost all of his subsequent prints have been hand coloured by assistants and in the case of P77044 the colouring was done by Maurice Payne who first introduced Hodgkin to intaglio printing in 1973. The process of using a ‘second' hand to colour the printed image was partly suggested to Hodgkin by Herbert Read's description of the anonymous decorators of pottery. The artist no longer remembers the source of Read's description. According to Hodgkin the artist is often tempted to alter the image through successive reinterpretations. In contrast an assistant can be employed, almost as a mechanical tool, to duplicate marks of the simplest kind. The ‘original' of such hand-repeated marks is always made by the assistant under the very close supervision of the artist. In the case of P77044 the hand colouring is in watercolour, a yellow and pink wash background and a blue border.

P77044 shows the artist's friend Nick in his room in London. The figure is seen bending over a light in the partially shuttered room and the scene is contained within a patterned border. The pronounced decoration of the border parallels the characteristic frame-within-a-picture device of the artist's paintings where the actual frame is often incorporated pictorially. This frame device suggests a theatrical space or stage and this is enhanced in P77044 by the room-dividing shutters. The border also suggests a window, opening onto a private environment and through which one glimpses an intimate personal presence.

Almost all of Hodgkin's paintings and prints derive from recalled experience of situations - sometimes momentary - of people and (their) environments, and as Richard Morphet has observed (Tate Gallery exh. cat. 1985) ‘The factor common to all the moments is that for Hodgkin observation and feeling were fused in them with such concentration that later recollection of the experience, with all its levels of reality is vivid and insistent'. While Hodgkin's painted images emerge slowly and the nature of the final image may be unresolved months before completion, Hodgkin approaches each new print with fully formed intentions. This is dictated partly by the requirements of the medium and partly by the different purpose a print can serve. Hodgkin has stated:

I decided in the end quite consciously that I would accept the fact that prints were, or certainly could be, the permanent impression, multiplied, of something that could be as fleeting and evanescent as you like - the sort of thing that in a painting I would feel couldn't stand up, was too frail, too delicate, too momentary (quoted in Teresa Gleadowe 1987).

The subject of P77044 was explored by the artist in a further print, the hand coloured lithograph entitled ‘Nick's Room', 1977 (repr. Tate Gallery exh. cat. 1985, p.51 no.4).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.385-7

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