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Black Moonlight by Howard Hodgkin

Black Moonlight by Howard Hodgkin

Petersburg Press

Colour Lithograph


Edition Size: 50

Sheet Size: 44 x 55 inches

Reference: Elizabeth Knowles, Howard Hodgkin: Prints 1977 to 1983, Tate Gallery, London 1985, no. 32 illustrated. Liesbeth Heenk, Howard Hodgkin Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné, Thames and Hudson, London 2003, no. 62 illustrated.


Condition: Pristine

Details — Click to read

Lithograph with hand coloring and gouache on two sheets. Printed on two sheets of Rives buff mould-made paper. Signed by the artist with initials and dated 80 lower left in pencil (on left-hand sheet), numbered 35/50 by the artist lower right in pencil (on right-hand sheet).

This print depicts an abstracted apartment interior marked by expressive strokes of grey and black. Two figures can be made out: a self-portrait and a bust, or perhaps the artist and a friend, in Hodgkin’s signature painterly style. The artist layered transparent blacks ranging from beige to black, and hand coloring in gouache and watercolor in three shades of black in this moody print, rendering each impression in the edition unique.

Busts are a reoccurring motif in Hodgkin’s work, allowing him to introduce the idea of the self or another person without overtly depicting a figure. The downward-pointing arrow at the center of the print was painted in translucent watercolor through a stencil, so that it would bleed into the background. This arrow connects the portrait on the left with the bust in the lower right. Behind the bust hangs an antique Mugal rug, and behind the portrait, its complex patterns are mimicked with fingerprints beneath a loosely-painted design.

The 1980s marked Hodgkin’s use of prints with paired sheets, most of them large in size. Through hand coloring and variable inking, he explored duplication and mirroring. Many of these paired sheets featured one in color, and the other in monochrome. This atmospheric image expresses Hodgkin’s lifelong attempt to capture single moments in time and infuse them with feeling and observation. Like many of Hodgkin’s prints that share plates, Black Moonlight is printed from the same plates as Moonlight. The two works aren’t a pair, but rather explore different moods.


The Artist

Howard Hodgkin

British printmaker and painter Howard Hodgkin is most associated with the abstract style. Exhibiting his first works in 1962, he created continuously up to his death at age 84 in 2017. London-born Hodgkin studied at first Camberwell Art School and then the Bath Academy of Art. His first works used only a few colours and curved forms, though this evolved over time. Later pieces used brighter and bolder colours and forms and had a more immediate, spontaneous quality. His most famous work is a series of paintings of Venice, known as the ‘Venetian Views’. It shows the ancient watery city at various times of the day. ‘Venice Afternoon’ is seen as the exceptional work in the quartet. Its creation was achieved through a complex printing process which used many layers and an incredibly complex printing process to build up its colourful effect. It is now on display at the Yale Centre of British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, in the USA. Howard Hodgkin created an abstract screen print on paper called ‘Swimming’ for the London 2012 Olympics. He won premier art award the Turner Prize in 1985, was knighted in 1992 and awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Oxford in 2000.

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