new-york

Howard Hodgkin

Gagosian Gallery

Do Howard Hodgkin’s new paintings reprise what physiologist Max Verworn in 1908 called “ideoplastic style”—pure painterly expression or representation of interiority—or do they extend and develop the aesthetic perception at the core of this style? Do they deepen our sense of what Alexander Baumgarten called “sensateobjectivity” and show that the expressive possibilities of “aesthetic painting” were not exhausted by its last great surge in postpainterly abstraction? There is no question that Hodgkin is a vitalist and that aesthetic painting is alive and well in his work, but one has to consider the possibility that his work decadently recapitulates its own history (of which Hodgkin is quite conscious). The issue boils down to the quality of “empathy,” in Theodor Lipps’s sense: For the aesthetician, the source of “aesthetic enjoyment” is a “critical participation in the fullness of the

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