Howard Hodgkin Prints exhibition, Modern Art Oxford 1976, by Penelope Marcus

The following text is transcribed from a leaflet accompanying Hodgkin’s 1976 prints exhibition at Modern Art Oxford Howard Hodgkin has said that he particularly likes this text about his printmaking, 1st January 1976

Howard Hodgkin Prints exhibition, Modern Art Oxford 1976


Complete Prints

illus. Sun, from More Indian Views, 1976


Though Howard Hodgkin’s earliest paintings date from 1949 he only published his first print, a slikscreen, Enter Laughing, in 1964. He said that he enjoyed making Enter Laughing because he could alter the preparatory collage fro the screeprint aendlessly without worrying about things he might alter want to dispense with. The print was produced by Christopher Prater who made him aware of the possibilities in screenprinting of using collage and photographic separation.

During 1966-8 Howard Hodgkin published five lithographs, Five Rooms, of which tow, Interior with Figure and Girl at Night, were proofed with Mathieu in Switzerland, and the other three, Bedroom, Girl on a Sofa and Indian Room, were made at the Alecto Studio in London. Hodgkin was dissapointed with these prints because his inhibitions about making marks on the litho plates made his execution schematic and mechanical.

The lithograph, Arch, 1970-71, depicts an arch in an Indian village.

Indian Views A-L, 1971, a set of 12 silkscreen prints, derive from Howard Hodgkin’s travels in India. “The blunt rectangles, though not in the same proportions, are based on the little windows in old-fashioned Indian railway carriages, through which you get the almost keyhole views – concentrated fragments”. Among the subjects are the shapes of hills, sand against the sky in the early morning, red sun over the sea, washing in a garden, dried water-courses and vegetation. The prints were conceived as one work and are meant to be seen together. To make the prints Hodgkin made collages, some of which were smaller than a matchbox, and these were enlarged photographically for the screenprints. The textures which resulted were produced by tonal separations and overprinting. The materials used in the collages include brown paper tape, coloured plastic bicycle tape, corrugated cardboard, torn and cut paper, letrafilm, drawn over with chalk, pentel and impasto acrylic paint.

A lithograph, Untitled, 1971, proofed but not published, was the first idea for the aquatints, Interior (Day) and Interior (Night), 1973-74. These were produced in a concentrated period of works with the printer, Maurice Payne, whose contribution to the prints Howard Hodgkin feels was larger than his own. The various states of the aquatints reveal that some plates were used in both prints. They depict a room in which a painting was hung near a window. At night the shadows from the electric light creep up the wall concealing the spotted wallpaper seen in day-light.

Artificial Flowers, 1975, a silkscreen print, is a violet monochrome reproduction of the painting of the same name, arbitrarily coloured with red, green and orange.

The lithograph, After Luke Howard, 1975, from the set of prints, For John Constable, is a free version of a drawing of a cloud formation in the Courtauld Institute collection by Luke Howard. Luke Howard’s book, On the Modification of Clouds, may have influenced Constable’s cloud studies.

The five More Indian Views, 1976, are a continuation of Indian Views. They differ, however, from the earlier series in that they are lithographs drawn on the plate and are individually titled.

Recently Howard Hodgkin has started a group of hand-coloured prints of interiors with figures, which are nearer in scale and subject to his paintings than his previous prints. The lithograph, Julian and Alexis, 1977, is the largest print yet made by the artist and the first to be hand-coloured. The stage proofs of Nick, 1977, a hand-coloured etching and aquatint, show how much the print changed during its production.

After the show at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford, the exhibition will tour in the Souther Arts Association area and later throughout the country.

Penelope Marcus

illus. Indian View C, 1971
illus. Indian View J, 1971

List of Prints

Enter Laughing silkscreen, 1964
Five Rooms 5 lithographs, 1966-8
Interior with Figure
Girl at Night
Indian Room
Girl on a sofa

Arch lithograph 1970-1
Indian Views (A-L) 12 silkscreens 1971
Untitled lithograph 1971
Interior (Day) aquatint 1973-4
(with stage proofs)
Interior (Night) aquatint 1973-4
(with stage proofs)
Artificial Flowers silkscreen 1975
After Luke Howard lithograph 1975
from John Constable
More Indian Views
5 lithographs 1976
Julian and Alexis
hand-coloured lithograph 1977
Nick hand-coloured etching and aquatint 1977
(with stage proofs)