“1937: At the age of 5 Hodgkin determines to become a painter.” A timeline of notable events in the artist’s life and career.
1966 - 1972
Teaches part time at Chelsea School of Art, London, along with Martin Froy.
At the age of 41 H makes his American debut at the Jill Kornblee Gallery in New York with 9 paintings (view gallery): “they realized at once what sort of artist I was when I first showed in New York”, he told Edward Lucie-Smith in 1981, “…the reaction was such that I felt I was communicating with an audience. I’ve rarely felt that in England.”
In New York he will later show with Andre Emmerich, Lawrence Rubin at Knoedler and with Gagosian.
He shows nine recent paintings at the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and Dartington Hall, Devon, including Talking about Art, the first picture in which he leaves parts of the wooden surface unpainted.
Acute depression is finally recognized as a symptom of amoebic hepatitis, contracted in India eight years previously. Recovers and returns to India as one of 3 British artists in the 3rd Indian Triennale in Delhi. Becomes a friend of Foy Nissen of the British Council in Bombay and visits the studio of Jamini Roy.
Separates from his wife and acknowledges his homosexuality.
Appointed CBE. Artist in residence for a year at Brasenose College, Oxford.
Shows 9 new paintings at Waddington Galleries, London.
Awarded second prize at the 10th John Moore’s Liverpool Exhibition for Cafeteria at the Grand Palais.
First retrospective exhibition ‘Forty-five Paintings, 1949-1975’ opens at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. Richard Morphet writes in the catalogue. Works include Bombay Sunset and Small Durand Gardens, where Morphet then lived.
Makes a print, After Luke Howard, for a bicentennial portfolio tribute, ‘For John Constable’, published by Bernard Jacobson, along with works by Peter Blake, Bill Brandt, Barry Flanagan, Duncan Grant, David Hockney, John Hoyland, Richard Smith and others. Luke Howard, a distant relation, after whom Hodgkin was named, wrote the ‘Essay on the Modification of Clouds’ (1803), that inspired Constable’s cloud studies. Read more here.
1970 - 1976
Becomes a Trustee of the Tate Gallery.
For the first time H applies paint to a print, Julian and Alexis. He also asks his son Sam to help him colour the edition, under his supervision. From now on he will add hand colouring to all his prints.
Foy Nissen’s Bombay hangs in the Hayward Annual. Current British Art Selected by Michael Compton, Howard Hodgkin and William Turnbull.
Buys a flat in a house near the British Museum. Eventually buys the rest of the building and the former dairy behind the house, which becomes a studio.
Meets Nick Underwood, a friend of George Lawson and Wayne Sleep, and visits him in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Underwood attends Oral Roberts University. Creates a series of prints for Petersburg Studios, Nick, A Furnished Room, Jarid’s Porch, Nick’s Room and Storm, as well as paintings such as Lawson Underwood & Sleep, Jealousy and a gouache, A Storm. Lawson’s comment on a living room in a Tulsa suburb inspired H’s print Here we are in Croydon.
Selects work from the National Gallery’s collection for an exhibition in their series ‘The Artist’s Eye’. Renoir’s Dancing Girl with Castanets and Dancing Girl with Tambourine flank the entrance against yellow backgrounds. “English people don’t seem to like these paintings much”, he comments in the catalogue so he installs banks of red geraniums underneath them to help people see them better. He brings up the fragments of Manet’s Execution of Maximilian I from the reserve collection in order to assemble them on one canvas (as a previous owner, Degas, had done) and installs Tiepolo’s ceiling panel as a ceiling panel. Both innovations persist. His plan to cover the room’s walls with bright, floral patterned, Indian cotton is not realized for ‘technical reasons’. Instead works by Velazquez (without its “hideous frame”), Mantegna, Fabritius and others hang on walls covered in navy blue bunting. The series always includes works by the artist; Hodgkin hangs Dinner at Smith Square and Mr and Mrs E.J.P as well as a Moghul miniature, a page from the Hamzanama, Mihrdukt shoots at the ring. The catalogue includes Hodgkin’s introduction and comments and an appreciation by Alistair Smith. 165,000 people came to the show, an attendance figure “equalled only by Titian’s Portraits”, the director Michael Levey tells Hodgkin in a letter of 28 August 1979.
Visits David Hockney in Los Angeles with Peter Blake and keeps a Journal. After omelettes at the Sidewalk, (“P.B’s a Jack Kerouac, mine…a Gertrude Stein. Both revolting”), they visited Disneyland: “DH admired Pirates of the Caribbean. A plunge by boat into a dark river with treasure and cities being pillaged, a skeleton sitting in bed reading a map through a magnifying glass, a harbour full of slaves and whores all life-size, life-like and in motion…The Life of Snow White which was poor, described by PB as an early work.” Extracts were printed in Ambit 83, 1980. Hodgkin’s paintings of DH in Hollywood and prints of David’s Pool and David’s Pool at Night refer to this visit. Peter Blake evokes the trip in A Remembered Moment in Venice, California 1981–91 and the encounter with David Hockney in The Meeting or Have a Nice Day, Mr Hockney 1981-3. That also refers ironically to La rencontre, ou Bonjour M. Courbet of 1854, in which Courbet’s wealthy art patron and servant behind him salute the Assyrian-bearded artist.
The Moon hangs in ‘The Hayward Annual…Selected by John Hoyland’.
First South Bank Show for London Weekend Television, directed by Verity Bargate.
Designs sets and costumes for ‘Night Music’, choreographed by Richard Alston for Ballet Rambert.
First show with Lawrence Rubin at Knoedler’s Gallery, New York. 12 works include The Moon (bought by R.B.Kitaj). Catalogue includes an essay by Lawrence Gowing: “Absorbed in the simultaneous flat-and-deep of Hodgkin’s colour one no longer seeks to decode it. One dwells in it for itself; in its presence, one is in its company.”
“I think there are some artists who certainly should get out of the studio a little bit more often”, Hodgkin tells Edward Lucie-Smith in an interview for BBC Radio 3 (printed in Quarto, 1981). “I mean I know in my case that my work is entirely sustained by experiences of one sort or another. Somebody once said, ‘well, you must have to live like a novelist to paint pictures like this.’ Which is true.”
Hodgkin is included in ‘A New Spirit in Painting’ at the Royal Academy. Talking to Alan Woods in 1998 the artist commented, “Painting still remains alive, as an activity, in a way that, when I was young, would have seemed ridiculous. Pompier painting, as it was called, has come back with a bang – huge subject pictures. Think of Kiefer’s work alone, but anyone who saw the exhibition would have seen how much it was the old spirit of painting – pictures that would have made Cezanne and the Post-Impressionists turn in their graves. Enormous subject pictures which, as physical objects, were often produced in the most perfunctory manner possible, that were big and were in your face, comparable to these huge machines in the Paris Salons which I was brought up, I think quite rightly, to despise.”
Gives the William Townsend Memorial Lecture at the Slade School of Fine Art (reprinted in The Burlington Magazine, 1982). A distinguished sculptor walks out, when Hodgkin talks about money. See ‘How to be an Artist’ in Interviews & Resources.
With Geeta Kapur co-curates ‘Six Indian Painters’ at the Tate Gallery, including Jamini Roy and Bhupen Khakhar.
Indian Leaves, pairs of images created in Ahmedabad by staining textile dye directly onto newly handmade paper, opens at the Tate Gallery. Michael Compton, H and Bruce Chatwin contribute to the catalogue. A 40 minute Arts Council film by Judy Marle, ‘Howard Hodgkin in Conversation with David Sylvester’, opens in his studio in Wiltshire and includes a visit to India, and conversations with Bhupen Khakhar and Foy Nissen.
Exhibition with Lawrence Rubin at Knoedler’s, New York. Works include After Corot.
Meets E.J.Power (1899-1993), a fellow trustee of the Tate Gallery, who collects paintings by Jackson Pollock and commissions a series of family portraits from Hodgkin.