British artist Howard Hodgkin has been honoured as the first Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon. It aims to honour the lifetime achievement of one of our greatest artists. Hodgkin will be presented with the award at a spectacular gala dinner hosted by Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick OBE
The Whitechapel Art Icon is to be given to Howard Hodgkin for his presence as a central figure in contemporary art for over half a century. His poetic paintings are studies of form and colour with nature as their theme. He has also been a pioneer of print making, combining hand painting with etching and aquatint to create a remarkable body of works on paper. Hodgkin is an inspiration to and influence on successive generations of artists.
Born in London in 1932, Hodgkin has been exhibiting internationally since the 1960s. He had his first major solo survey at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1985 and was awarded the Turner Prize in the same year. He has had numerous major retrospectives including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1995 and Tate Britain, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and the Reina Sofia, Madrid in 2006 and Modern Art Oxford in 2010, and was knighted for services to the arts in 1992.
The artist was chosen by a panel of art experts chaired by Iwona Blazwick: Stephen Deuchar, Director, The Art Fund; Ann Gallagher, Head of Collections (British Art), Tate; and, Jackie Wullschlager, Chief Art Critic, The Financial Times.
Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick OBE said, ‘Observations of a lover’s face or a city at night, of a blade of grass or a horizon are distilled into a lyrical alphabet of abstraction in Howard Hodgkin’s modestly scaled but visually arresting paintings and prints. We are immensely proud to honour Howard Hodgkin with the very first Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon – our art Oscar. From his first solo show at the Whitechapel Gallery to his latest paintings with jewel-like colours he is a powerhouse in British art and a reference point for artists worldwide.’
Hodgkin studied at Camberwell Art School and the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham and began exhibiting internationally in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1984 Hodgkin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and had his first major solo survey at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1985. He was awarded the Turner Prize in the same year. Having served as a trustee of the Tate and the National Gallery in London, he was knighted for services to the arts in 1992. Hodgkin lives and works in London.
For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. The Gallery is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.