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5 Rooms

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Meaning & Analysis

Sir Howard Hodgkin is internationally recognised as one of the leading figures of Post War British art. Having trained as a painter since the age of 17, a young Hodgkin soon found in printmaking to be his medium of choice. 5 Rooms is a series of five coloured lithographs, produced between 1966 and 1968. The series bears witness to Hodgkin’s earliest attempts at printmaking, marking the start of an increasingly abstracted and vividly colourful visual language.

The artist began experimenting with the medium in 1953, when he produced his first lithograph as a 20 year old student at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, up until his death in 2017. Hodgkin produced small-scale monochromatic prints as well as large-scale, megalithic multi-panel prints, as displayed in his As Time Goes By series. In his formative years, Hodgkin explored lithographs and screen-prints but produced very few works compared to the abundance of prints in his later life. The year the first lithograph of 5 Rooms was produced, 1966, marked a significant turning point in his production. 5 Rooms was produced whilst the artist was teaching at the Bath Academy of Art, where he had studied up until a few years earlier. The prints were commissioned by Paul Cornwall Jones of Editions Alecto and were produced together with the printer Emil Matthieu. In them, we can glimpse the formal and thematic preoccupations that permeated Hodgkin’s earliest production and that recurred throughout his oeuvre.