Howard Hodgkin - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Phillips
  • Howard Hodgkin first started printmaking in the mid-1950s at Corsham Court, where the likes of William Scott had trained, and Clifford Ellis oversaw the printmaking classes. So began a long career of producing editions. However, it was not until Hodgkin encountered the printer Jack Shirreff that he truly embraced the full potential of the medium. Carborundum etching was the catalyst for this change, and Hodgkin set about creating monumental prints under the expert guidance of Shirreff at his 107 Workshop in Wiltshire. Carborundum allowed the artist to paint directly onto plates, giving incredible depth and texture to the results, with surfaces echoing impasto paintings. It was a process that Hodgkin described as “marvellously liberating.” To complete these works, swathes of vibrant hand colours in egg tempera were washed across the surface.


    Hodgkin’s use of colour is quite atypical for a British painter of his generation. Growing up in a drab post-war Britain, it is not surprising that colour became a vessel through which the artist could escape the humdrum. Although Hodgkin drew inspiration from many sources, it was perhaps his international travels which made the most significant impression on his creative output. India had a particularly strong influence on the artist, contributing to his rich and vibrant palette, as exemplified in Indian Tree. Hodgkin first visited the country in 1964 and continued to return throughout his career, indicating the impact that these visits had on his artistic process through the statement, “I couldn’t do my work without India.” Aside from his visits, Hodgkin also amassed an exquisite collection of Indian art which provided him with sustained creative stimulation.


    Similarly, a 1988 trip to Morocco resulted in the large-scale print Moroccan Door. The vivid blue of the inks in this work seemingly recalls the colours of Chefchaouen, Morocco’s so-called ‘Blue City’. Nearby Tangier also served as an inspiration to Hodgkin, as the print Street Palm - an image of a palm tree, conjured from the artist’s memory of the view from a hotel – was based on an earlier oil painting titled In Tangier. Palm trees were one of Hodgkin’s favoured and frequently repeated motifs. He described these simplistic yet exuberant images - among them Night Palm, Street Palm, Palm and Window and Flowering Palm - as “soothing, straightforward, uplifting and raising the spirits.” While India and Morocco certainly influenced Hodgkin’s palette, these prints were also inspired by the colourful, large-scale travel posters that were prevalent in the Paris Métro in the 1950s and '60s. These posters were symbols of a certain post-war glamour and directness that Hodgkin hoped to evoke in his bright and spontaneous compositions.

    • Provenance

      Waddington Graphics, London
      Private Collection, London

    • Literature

      Liesbeth Heenk 87

    • Artist Biography

      Howard Hodgkin

      British • 1932 - 2017

      One of the greatest colorists of his generation, Howard Hodgkin explores the very nature of painting as both cultured language and sheer expression. He disregards the classical polarities of abstraction and representation, past and present, canvas and frame, using gestural brushstrokes and a vivid palette to emphasize the picture plane, while simultaneously seeking to convey memories and emotions.

      The seemingly casual, urgent quality of his paintings and prints belies a drawn-out process of making: it could take a year for Hodgkin to prepare to execute a single brushstroke. The resultant maximalist, saturated works on canvas, paper, wood and board can be intimately scaled and jewel-like, or oversized, opulent and theatrical. Whilst his early compositions have a collaged, geometric flatness, Hodgkin's later work (including etching and aquatint prints) increasingly incorporated more lush surface textures and complex, fluid patterns reminiscent of the Pahari miniatures from India, of which he was an avid collector.

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Street Palm (H. 87)

Intaglio print with carborundum in colours and hand-colouring in egg tempera, on Arches paper, the full sheet.
S. 150 x 120.9 cm (59 x 47 5/8 in.)
Signed with initials, dated and numbered 'AP 5/15' in pencil (an artist's proof, the edition was 55), published by Waddington Graphics, London, unframed

Full Cataloguing

£6,000 - 8,000 

Sold for £7,560

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 18 - 19 January 2023