Sotheby’s sale of Howard Hodgkin’s Works on Paper Supports New Print Catalogue Raisonné

Howard Hodgkin, Back cloth design for Rhymes with Silver (1997)

Proceeds from an auction of works on paper by Howard Hodgkin due to take place at Sotheby’s London this summer will go towards a new catalogue raisonné of the late artist’s works. Every print in the sale on 12 June—Howard Hodgkin, Working on Paper—is an artist’s proof retained by Hodgkin; works consigned include Hodgkin’s London 2012 Olympics poster entitled Swimming (est £25,000-£30,000).

The new catalogue raisonné is due to include 189 prints and other unique works on paper; a previous catalogue was published in 2003. The sale proceeds will also enable Hodgkin’s partner, Antony Peattie, to acquire a complete set of graphic works which he plans to donate to a museum.

“Although best-known for his paintings, Hodgkin’s works on paper reveal the sheer scope of his sources and approaches, from stage designs and book covers to a prodigious body of prints created in collaboration with master printmakers over 50 years,” Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of Modern and post-war British art, says in a statement.

The works on paper, spanning more than 50 years, are all truly collaborative efforts. Christie tells us that “other artists do not get so involved with the [printing] process, whereas Hodgkin collaborated with printmakers on every piece.”

Howard Hodgkin, Indian Wave No. 32 (1990-91)

According to the art historian Richard Morphet, Hodgkin sought master printmakers who understood the specific feeling and function of each hand-made mark. The artist’s techniques varied from lithography to screenprinting, encompassing hand-colouring.

Hodgkin especially enjoyed working on stage designs because, as he said, “it’s the opposite of working alone in the studio”. These include Back cloth design for Piano (est £20,000-£30,000), made for the Royal Ballet in London in 1989, and Back cloth design for Rhymes with Silver (est £15,000-£20,000) which was first performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1997. The auction will also include book covers created for the writer Julian Barnes and the essayist Susan Sontag.

The hand-painted gouache Indian Wave No. 32 (1990-91) has the highest estimate (est £40,000-£60,000). The artist’s auction record is £1.7m (with buyer’s premium) for the painting Goodbye to the Bay of Naples (1980-82) which was sold at Christie’s London last October.