Some of Howard Hodgkin’s finest paper works – from his own personal collection – are going under the hammer.
The late painter’s partner is auctioning the work, from stage designs to book covers and artwork for the London 2012 Olympics, to raise funds to create a museum collection of Hodgkin’s prints.
Hodgkin, who died in 2017 and was hailed as “one of the great artists and colourists of his generation”, was famous for his brightly coloured paintings.
But he made prints throughout his life – he revelled in the technique and relished the way they brought him out of “the lonely solitude of the painting studio”.
The artist was lauded for his spontaneous and experimental printmaking methods.
All the prints in the Sotheby’s sale are artist’s proofs, kept by Hodgkin in his own personal collection.
Museums hold many of the British artist’s paintings but only a small number of Hodgkin’s prints are held in public collections.
Antony Peattie, Hodgkin’s partner, wants to buy back the prints that were sold around the world during the painter’s lifetime.
He will donate the finished collection to an as-yet unnamed museum.
Peattie said: “Prints mattered to Howard all his working life… He delighted in the way prints made his own work available to a wider public and revelled in the technical challenges, as collaboration with printers offered him an alternative to the lonely solitude of the painting studio.
“The proceeds of this sale of his artist’s proofs will enable me to put together a museum collection of Howard’s prints, so that in future the public can have access to all of it.”
The auction follows last year’s Sotheby’s sale of art, sculpture, rugs, textiles and furniture that the artist collected throughout his life.
Peattie added: “Howard’s work enjoys a strong emotional link with the public. This is another step in honouring his legacy.”
Highlights of the sale next month will include Hodgkin’s stage designs for The Royal Ballet and his official poster for the 2012 London Olympics.
His original artwork for his “sumptuous” deep blue Swimming poster from London 2012 is expected to fetch £25,000 to £35,000.
Hodgkin spent 30 years producing sets and costume designs for ballets, dances and operas and his collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group will make its European debut at Sadler’s Wells this year.
Frances Christie, Sotheby’s head of modern and post-war British art, told the Press Association: “From his first print, in around 1966, up until he died, Howard Hodgkin was really interested in making prints.
“They were very much integral to his oeuvre, alongside the paintings he was best known for.
“Printmaking was a huge part of his creative process… Almost more than any other artist he really understood how complicated and how sophisticated printmaking could be.”
She said of the motivation behind the sale: “Antony Peattie wants to create a museum collection so that the artist’s entire repertoire of 189 prints is accessible to the public.”
The auction also features prints that have only just been rediscovered and have never been seen in public before and were stored away in a printmaker’s workshop.
Howard Hodgkin Working On Paper takes place at Sotheby’s New Bond Street, London, on June 12, as part of its Modern British Week.