The first exhibition to span the entire career of Howard Hodgkin takes place at Tate Britain in June 2006. Hodgkin is widely regarded as one of the most important artists working in Britain today. Bringing together 60 of his evocative and vibrant paintings from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view new work in the context of earlier decades.
Although Hodgkin (born 1932) didn’t emerge as a major figure in British art until the 1970s the exhibition begins with paintings from the 1950s, revealing the early development of his singular visual language. The exhibition traces the evolution of his vocabulary through the portraits on canvas of friends and interiors of the 1960s, to his adoption in the mid 1970s of the wooden panel and frame, defining painting as object, and through to the later, looser and more gestural paintings of the 1990s. Displayed broadly chronologically, the exhibition includes a group of Venetian paintings from the 1980s and new work never seen before.
Binding together all his work is his consistent exploration of the representation of personal encounters, emotional experience and memories of specific events. Whether trips to India, Egypt or Morocco, social occasions such as dinner with friends, particular moments are simultaneously reconstructed and obscured through a layering of the picture surface with distinct marks and intense colours, often achieved only over a period of several years.
While associations have been made to Matisse, Vuillard, Degas and American abstract expressionist painting, as well as Pahari miniature paintings of which the artist is an avid collector through his many trips to India, Hodgkin has continued to forge a strongly independent path, developing a distinctive style.
Hodgkin was born in 1932 in London and studied at the Camberwell School of Art and Bath Academy of Art from 1949–54. His work has been shown around the world and is included in many international museum collections. The only previous retrospective of his work was shown in 1976 at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, though major exhibitions of recent works were seen in London at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1985 and at the Hayward Gallery in 1996. His many professional positions have included teaching at Chelsea from 1966–72, Trustee of the Tate Gallery 1970–6 and of the National Gallery from 1978–85. He represented Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennial, was awarded the Turner Prize in 1985 and knighted in 1992.
The exhibition is curated by Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate and Enrique Juncosa, Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The exhibition is a collaboration with the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, where a slightly smaller version will open in February 2006. It will tour to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in October 2006 following the Tate Britain showing. A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition including an introduction by Nicholas Serota, a major essay by James Meyer and an essay on Hodgkin’s technique by Jacqueline Ridge as well as a complete chronology and bibliography.