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Howard Hodgkin: As You’d Been Won’t - Signed Print

As You’d Been Won’t
Signed Print

Howard Hodgkin

POA

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Aquatint, 1991
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 30cm x W 43cm

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Critical Review

As You’d Been Won’t was the first print produced by Hodgkin to illustrate Susan Sontag’s seminal 1986 novel, The Way We Live Now. The story of the novel revolves around an unnamed man’s struggle with AIDS throughout the 1980s pandemic and recounts the visits to the hospital of his group of friends. As the main character falls more and more ill, the characters dwell on life as they know it. As You’d been Won’t, Hodgkin’s chosen title, therefore, reflects the growing awareness of irrevocable loss, that of their friends’ life but also of their own, that emerges out of the characters’ reflections throughout the book.

Through reference to the book, Hodgkin’s choice of sepia and yellow tones acquire further meaning as a mirror of the characters’ nostalgic and melancholic memories of the past, of a past now lost and irreproducible in the present. Sontag wrote the book at a time when the AIDS pandemic had become a reality permeating not only America but also England and the rest of the world. Hodgkin’s contribution to the dialogue surrounding the AIDS pandemic places this unique print not only at the forefront of Hodgkin’s production on paper but mostly at the centre of contemporary history.

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