Thursday, October 28, 2021

Halcyon Horizon: Howard Hodgkin Master Work At Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Sale In London

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London – A fresh to the market work by Howard Hodgkin (1932-2017), Out of the Window, 2000, is one of the star lots of Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art sale on Friday 15 October in London. The work has an estimate of £450,000-650,000.

In 2000, Hodgkin was invited to exhibit ten recent works, including Out of the Window, alongside the permanent collection of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. With Hodgkin’s influences stretching across the centuries, the exhibition sought to centre his practice within the history of painting. Hodgkin searched for certain qualities in the works of the predominantly 17th Century collection which inspired him – and was able to establish a timelessness to abstract painting that emphasised the nature of painting itself, drawing attention to composition, colour, speed and execution, even the traditional gilt framing. Pieces were not selected to encourage comparisons, but rather to show Hodgkin in a renewed historical context. Out of the Window was placed between The Locksmith by a follower of Ribera and Guercino’s St Cecilia.

Bonhams Global Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor, commented: “Fresh to the market, after remaining in the same collection since its acquisition from the artist in 2001, Out of the Window is a dazzling and vibrant display of Howard Hodgkin’s masterful practice. His virtuosic brushwork is exquisite and expressive, the choice of colour bold and unapologetic. Abstract at first glance, Hodgkin’s paintings consistently deal with memory and psychic landscapes that are often exposed to the viewer opaquely in their titles. Out of the Window is a rapturous rainbow of colour composed of orchestral strokes of vibrant jewel-like paint. It is reminiscent of the colours of India – a country he adored and returned to throughout his life. The size and shape of the antique oval picture frame – a less common format in Hodgkin’s oeuvre – adds to the sense of a real window, transporting the work to a third dimension. It is a striking work, and we expect it to strike a chord with bidders.”

Emerging from the Bath Academy of Art at Corsham in 1954, Howard Hodgkin drew his early inspiration from The New American Painting exhibition of Abstract Expressionist artists at the Tate Gallery in 1959. Despite comparisons with Rothko and De Kooning, he rejected the flatness of American Modernism – often pushing the painting out of its frame and creating abstract depths of field. Hodgkin was given his first solo show in 1962 at Arthur Tooth & Sons. In 1984, he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, and the following year he was awarded the Turner Prize. In 1992, Hodgkin was knighted. A retrospective in 1995-96, organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, travelled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Dusseldorf, Germany.

Hodgkin was one of the most prominent and celebrated British painters of the modern era and his work resides in numerous museums and galleries worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Sao Paulo, Brazil; and the Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisbon.

Other highlights of the sale include:

  • Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008) Untitled (Red Fan), 1965. Estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000. One of only a handful of sculptural works created by Kazuo Shiraga, and the only one to appear at auction, Untitled  (Red Fan) is made from red lacquered tissue paper and folded in the manner of a traditional Japanese fan. At just over three meters wide and standing tall, the work has an arresting presence, emanating a serene air of calm, despite its intense red hue called ‘Crimson Lake’, the artist’s favourite colour at that time. Shiraga was primarily known for his mesmerizing performance paintings, and sculptural works by the artist are a rare sight, especially at auction.
  • Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), Intersection (Copperhead), 1989, from a celebrated series of paintings on metal created during his ROCI project. Estimate: £300,000-500,000. From 1984 to 1991 Rauschenberg embarked on the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange project known as ROCI (pronounced  “Rocky”). The project was an expression of his long-term commitment to human rights and intended to spark a dialogue and achieve mutual understanding through creative work. As part of the project, Rauschenberg explored diverse cultures and local art-making practices, concentrating on countries where artistic experimentation had been suppressed, including Chile, China and Cuba. On his trip to Chile in 1984 Rauschenberg visited a copper mine and foundry and learned from artist Benito Rojo about the potential of tarnishing agents on copper.

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