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Howard Hodgkin, Early Evening in the Museum of Modern Art, 1979

This image was printed from the same plate as Late Afternoon in the Museum of Modern Art but with the addition of black gouache applied by hand. Around the same time that he started to use soft-ground etching, Hodgkin started consistently to utilize hand-colouring in the editions of his prints. The colouring was never carried out by the artist himself, but by printers (in this case Ken Farley and John Hutcheson) working under his instruction. Hodgkin wanted the impersonal, or 'distanced' touch introduced by someone other than himself adding the colouring, although the intention was that the mark on each print would still retain the freshness of personal rather than mechanical application. Although Hodgkin's approach to printmaking reflects a strong sense that it is a less personal mode of expression than painting, and that prints do not 'deliver quite so much', his best prints, such as this set, come close to his paintings in their ability to convey particular emotions and moods through painterly gesture and touch. The sombre mood of these prints is linked to the artist's unhappiness at the time that he wandered through the Philip Johnson wing of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but when asked why this experience did not lead instead to a painting, he replied 'I wasn't that unhappy'. An earlier pre-publication title for this print was 'Shadows in the Museum of Modern Art'.

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