Thursday, June 24, 2010

Howard Hodgkin: Extremist, Part 1


"I wonder how Mr. Hodgkin reacts to words like “beautiful,” “voluptuary” and “immaculate.” He has bristled at being called an intimist, which years ago became his burden in the way that “colorist” became a knock on Bonnard. Mr. Hodgkin now makes some very big pictures, while he continues to make very small ones, sometimes decorative (another standard put-down), but more often tough and muscular. The ravishment of color belies the ambition; only occasionally does it undermine it. As the film critic Anthony Lane, a longtime admirer of Mr. Hodgkin’s, points out in the show’s catalog, Mr. Hodgkin has been, on the one hand, “applauded as a Chardin de nos jours and, on the other, scorned as a kind of advanced interior decorator.”

He asks, “Is Howard Hodgkin an artist of the small scale?” Then he answers his own question: No, he is “an extremist.”

That’s a surprising way to describe a careful painter, but I know what he means. Mr. Hodgkin is not a small-scale painter, even when his pictures are small; he can be uneven, but his best work is, in a sly, almost deceptive way, what serious abstraction ought to be about.  It is inspired by memories or “emotional situations,” as Mr. Hodgkin says. He rarely reveals what these are. His titles hint teasingly at them. He’s a reader, a collector, an expert on Indian miniatures, a widely curious consumer and an assimilator of art history. His paintings are full of more or less buried allusions." 

Michael Kimmelman, reviewing the Yale Center of British Art show of Howard Hodgkin, New York Times, Feb. 20, 2007


  1. Thanks for sharing this blog, we make some inspired about color value and their effect and main role they play in our life.

    1. Thank you for corresponding about this now ancient blog post of mine, which still means a lot to me. Howard Hodgkin is amazing. NICE to meet you. Curtis Roberts