Harry Holland



In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Harry Holland born 1941
Lithograph on paper
Image: 195 × 130 mm
Purchased 1983

Catalogue entry

P07805 Door 1982

Lithograph 7 5/8 × 5 1/8 (195 × 130) on paper 15 × 11 1/4 (380 × 285), printed by Nick Hunter and published by Garton & Cooke
Inscribed ‘W H Holland’ b.r. and ‘4/30’
Purchased from Robin Garton (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

The following entry is based on information supplied by the artist in a letter dated 21 April 1986. It has been approved by him.

Doors and social situations involving doors, in which a figure or figures are either standing in or walking through a doorway, are a recurrent theme in Holland's work. Holland has painted variations on this subject in ‘Room’ 1985 (repr. Harry Holland, exhibition catalogue, Artsite Gallery, Bath, August 1985, no.9) and ‘Door’ (repr. Peter Archer Harry Holland Frank McKenna, exhibition catalogue, Midland Group, Nottingham, April–May 1979, no.16). The artist has explained this interest as follows: ‘Doors are flat objects and are therefore capable of asserting or denying the picture plane. They also have a symbolic significance. These two factors make for a fairly rich meaning/interpretation.’ The figure in P07805 was drawn from memory and followed preliminary sketches now in the artist's collection. Although it is Holland's occasional practice to develop an idea from drawings via prints into paintings, this particular subject was not painted. Characteristically, the work resists any single literal interpretation. The figure occupies a doorway but it is unclear whether she is pausing in this space or is entering a room. The artist's treatment of detail is suggestive rather than descriptive. The viewer is invited to interact with the work by speculating on the actual appearance and meaning of the girl's facial expression, clothing and accessories for which only brief visual clues are supplied. By limiting literal information and consequently forcing the use of the observer's imagination, Holland is able to amplify the sense of an actual encounter with a real person, as opposed to a model, occupying real space. This is because the viewer, in being tempted to interpret the image, is compelled to draw upon memory which is the repository of his own real experiences.

P07805, together with P07806 and P07807 are part of a series of twenty lithographs which were executed as the result of a commission given to the artist by Robin Garton Gallery in 1980. The series was exhibited there in the exhibition Harry Holland Twenty Lithographs, November–December 1982. The artist has stated that lithography is his preferred printmaking technique because ‘stone lithography can be reworked in a rich variety of ways’. It is particularly suited to Holland's interest in the effects of light as the artist is able to obtain highlights and dissolve hard edges by scratching into the stone after the image has been laid down in lithographic crayon.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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