Modern and Contemporary Gallery 172, first floor
British painter Howard Hodgkin (b. 1932) has long been a keen collector of Indian miniature painting, which in turn has influenced his art. Drawn from Philadelphia area collections, this focused installation of about a dozen paintings by Hodgkin is organized to coincide with Intimate Worlds: Masterpieces of Indian Painting from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection (March 2–April 29, 2001). The works range in date from the late 1960s, when Hodgkin was associated with the British Pop Art movement; through the 1980s, when his vibrantly colored panel paintings brought him international recognition; to the present, with works revealing a dramatic change in scale and ambition.
Like Alvin O. Bellak, Hodgkin is an important collector of Indian paintings. The Mughal and Rajput miniatures that he admires have influenced the jewel-like brilliance of the artist's colors. Hodgkin has collected Indian painting for more than five decades and is a recognized authority on the subject. His enthusiasm for Indian art began in 1946, when he was a schoolboy at Eton College, and the artist has traveled to the Indian subcontinent on numerous occasions. Hodgkin's preference for rich, saturated color, his pictorial language of eloquent compression, and ambiguity of surface and depth, can be linked to his fascination with Indian painting. In speaking of Indian painting, Hodgkin has praised its ease in depicting a "whole world in a way which is completely convincing but totally separate, a world in which everything is precise and visible and yet somewhere else."
While Hodgkin's work is often referred to as abstract art, the artist has always declared himself to be a representational painter, "but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational pictures of emotional situations." As reflected in Howard Hodgkin, his portraits of friends, still lifes, and landscapes, all rendered in broad swathes of pigment on hard wood surfaces, convey emotion and memory through his unique use of color and gesture.
Michael Taylor • Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art