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Known for his bright and colourful abstracted paintings and prints, Sir Howard Hodgkin’s art was based around acts of recollection. He painted memories of personal and private experience through recourse to the emotional and intense quality of colour. While this generally holds true of most of Hodgkin’s paintings and prints, some of his works also engage with darker monochromatic hues and are remarkably different in tone from his most well-known works. And yet, it is in series like In the Museum of Modern Art, where black, grey and sepia nuances dominate, that Hodgkin’s varied array of visual strategies and the full emotional complexity of his works can be appreciated.
In The Museum Of Modern Art is a series comprising four monochromatic etchings produced in 1979 from a set of two plates. Allegedly, Hodgkin particularly enjoyed working with monochromatic prints as he felt that those were closer to the work he envisioned at the start of the process when he worked with the plates. In the images, the expressive gestural and painterly quality of Hodgkin’s prints is emphasised through the addition of the artist’s own fingerprints, which mark the artist’s intrusion into the mechanical reproduction of the images, making each of the four prints different from the others and unique. As if his fingerprints were not enough, Hodgkin also hand-painted certain parts of the prints, layering ink and colours in a process he increasingly began adopting for his prints starting from the 1970s. In this series of works, Hodgkin’s shift from the geometrical and self-contained forms of his 5 Rooms series to an expressive brushstroke able to evoke intense emotional states is most evident.