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News Item: 00068
27th Aug 2008
Charity helps buy Hodgkin masterpiece for Bath
The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, has helped Victoria Art Gallery in Bath acquire a painting by one of the UK's most important artists working in Britain today. Silence by Sir Howard Hodgkin is the first painting by the artist to enter the permanent collection at the Victoria Art Gallery - the very gallery where Hodgkin publicly exhibited his work for the first time, as part of a group show whilst he was a student in Bath in 1952.

The Art Fund gave the gallery a grant of £62,500 towards the total £75,000 required to purchase Silence. The charity was the sole external funder that contributed to the purchase of the painting, with additional funding coming from the Friends of the Victoria Art Gallery and a local fund-raising appeal.

Hodgkin has strong ties to Bath as he attended the Bath Academy of Art from 1950 - 1954, and he also went on to teach at the Academy for over ten years between 1955 and 1966. Today, Hodgkin's studio is based in central London, where the Victoria Art Gallery was able to select the painting directly from a variety of works put forward by the artist.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: "I am delighted that The Art Fund has helped to put such a fantastic example of Hodgkin's work back on display in Bath - the very city where Hodgkin spent a great deal of his early life as both an art student and art teacher."

Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery, said: "The acquisition of Silence fills a very significant gap in the Gallery's collection, given the artist's intimate connections with Bath. Silence is not only a beautiful and lyrical painting in its own right; it also represents the culmination of a development that was nurtured in Bath fifty years earlier."

Sir Howard Hodgkin is a major figure in British art, having served as a Trustee of the Tate and the National Gallery, London, and representing Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennale. He also won the Turner Prize in 1985, received a knighthood in 1992, and has had major retrospective exhibitions in London, New York and around the world.

Silence is typical of Hodgkin's approach, painted on a found support which projects forwards rather than receding towards the wall at its centre, giving the work a strong physical presence. The work was completed four years ago and represents significant changes in his artistic development over the last decade, with the paint applied in thin layers with wide brushstrokes. This is in contrast to his earlier paintings which were typically characterised by dots, dashes and scribbles.

Victoria Art Gallery, Bridge Street, Bath, BA2 4AT
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