Portrait of the artist by Miriam Perez. Courtesy Gagosian.
Portrait of the Artist Listening to Music is Howard Hodgkin’s last major painting and his final self-portrait, completed in 2016 with the Gallery’s exhibition in mind. The large work evokes a deeply personal situation in which the act of remembering is memorialised in paint.
While he worked on it, recordings of two pieces of music were played continuously: ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris’, composed by Jerome Kern and published in 1940, and the zither music from the 1949 film The Third Man, composed and performed by Anton Karas. Both pieces were favourites of the artist and closely linked with earlier times in his life that the experience of listening recalls. Kern’s song is itself a meditation on looking back and reliving the past.