Sir Howard Hodgkin (1932 - 2017)



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© London 2012 / Howard Hodgkin

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  • About the work
    Country: Japan
    City: Tokyo
    Place: British Embassy

    With a large gestural sweep of fluid brushstrokes Swimming evokes the feeling of moving through water. Although Hodgkin disliked explaining the content of his paintings in words, the swirling mass of blue and the sensation it evokes in this painting are clearly related to swimming or diving. This work is part of a set of limited-edition prints, commissioned from some of the UK’s most critically acclaimed artists to celebrate London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics. A set of these prints was presented to the Government Art Collection.


    The starting point for much of Hodgkin’s work has been the memory of an encounter with people or a place. He attempts to capture the abstract quality of a particular time, place or feeling and transform it into colour and shape, avoiding a literal representation of the event. Although occasionally his pictures refer to very specific places, Hodgkin does not always want to identify these.


    The richness of Hodgkin’s colour is influenced by the Indian Mughal miniatures which he has collected for many years. As a printmaker he is unusual in that since 1977, he has perfected a combination of printed and hand-applied colours for the whole edition of almost all his prints. This gives them a vibrancy of colour which printing alone cannot achieve. His art teacher at school, Wilfred Blunt, introduced him to Indian painting which, together with the work of Matisse, has been an important and continuing source of inspiration to Hodgkin.

  • About the artist
    Sir Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin was born into a family long connected with the arts. His art teacher at school, Wilfred Blunt, introduced him to Indian painting, which, together with the work of Henri Matisse, was an important and continued source of inspiration. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, Hodgkin was evacuated to America and returned to England in 1943. He spent a brief period at Camberwell School of Art in 1949, and from 1950 to 1954, he studied at the Bath Academy, Corsham, in Wiltshire. He subsequently taught at Corsham and also at the Chelsea School of Art, London. He was a Trustee of the National and Tate Galleries, and was awarded the CBE in 1977, and knighted in 1992. Hodgkin exhibited in the First India Triennale in 1968; represented Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennial; and won the Turner Prize in 1985. In 2000 he designed a mural for the new British Council building in New Delhi.
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    Materials & Techniques
  • Details
    Portfolio Title
    London 2012
    HDC 2/10
    height: 76.00 cm, width: 60.00 cm
    Presented by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, October 2011
    bl: HC 2/10 br: H.H. 2011
    London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (gift)
    GAC number