This signed etching from 1979 is a limited edition of 100 from Howard Hodgkin’s In the Museum Of Modern Art series. The horizontal print presents to the viewer an intricate abstract scene, where rushed, almost pencil-like black brushstrokes vehemently erupt on a white paper surface.
Remarkably lighter in tone when compared to its sister prints, this work is dominated, perhaps more than any other, by the fingerprints of the artist, which punctuate the white background in an ordered, vertical pattern. More distinctively than any other artist working on paper, Hodgkin loved to interfere with the mechanical process of printmaking. Painting directly on the printing plates with energetic and dynamic brushstrokes, Hodgkin believed in endowing his prints with a painterly feeling, so that his prints would resemble closely his paintings. In Thinking Aloud In The Museum Of Modern Art, the artist’s fingerprints not only join this dynamic interplay of hand and machine but also render the print unique. Through this interference, Hodgkin managed to make each work of the series, produced from the same printing plates, entirely distinct and different.
While Hodgkin notoriously disclosed very little about his works, the title of the series gestures to the time Hodgkin spent in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of New York, when, then still a child, he took refuge from World War II in New York. If we believe Hodgkin when he said that he painted “representational pictures of emotional states”, then this print acquires the poignantly intimate and emotional quality of a painful memory, evoking through its dark tones and chaotic brushstrokes the confusion pervading the young artist at the time.