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Meaning & Analysis

Sir Howard Hodgkin was one of the leading painters and printmakers to surface on the art scene in post war Britain. His production of prints and paintings spanned over five decades of work, throughout which Hodgkin forged indissoluble friendships and bonds that he celebrated repeatedly in his works as well as in his interviews. Dedications is an unofficial collection of Hodgkin’s prints that brings together some of the artist’s most notable and well-known tributes to his loved ones. The series features three works on paper - For Antony, For Jack and For Bernard Jacobson. Each was made by the artist for or in honour of three key figures that shaped his career and personal life.

For Antony, created by the artist in 2015, reads like a love letter from the artist to his partner, the British music writer Antony Peattie, with whom the artist had been for over twenty years. The etching makes use of a palette of three colours, blue, red and green, and was made through three copper plates. The etching was devised to promote and contribute to Antony Peattie’s book The Private Life of Lord Byron, with each buyer of the print automatically receiving a copy of the publication.

For Bernard Jacobson, produced in 1979, is dedicated to the art dealer and publisher Bernard Jacobson, founder of the homonymous gallery that represented the artist and sold many of his editions. The lithograph features a dark purple background dotted with cobalt blue dots and yellow wedges. The work follows one of Hodgkin’s many visits to India, also represented in his Indian Views series, and represents the artist’s memory of a dark night in India constellated by banana leaves, here represented through the use of yellow. To achieve the dark tone, Hodgkin used vegetable dyes that were painted onto each sheet of paper, making it one of Hodgkin’s most technically complex prints to date.

Further continuing in his tributes to colleagues, For Jack (2006) celebrates the years-long collaboration between Hodgkin and master printmaker Jack Shirreff, a pivotal relationship that revolutionised Hodgkin’s printmaking technique. The two met when Hodgkin was still teaching at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham and initiated a life-long collaboration, with Hodgkin’s prints being printed at 107 Workshop. Hodgkin recounted to have been drawn to Shirreff’s use of hand-colouring in print, which at the time was frowned upon by most printmakers. Shirreff, notably, first introduced the artist to the technique of carborundum, which Hodgkin immediately adopted to give a haptic sense of tactility and relief to his prints, as evident, for instance, in his As Time Goes By series.