Art

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper

[1]The artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is hard to classify. We think of Hopper as a modern painter. However, he continues a trend in American painting going back to William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri. In fact, Hopper was a student of both these artists and followed their influence in depicting American life with realism. (Perhaps we should go back even further and include Eakins and Homer.) In spite of the impact of the media, academia and critics, the American public had never accepted abstracted art in large numbers until recently. Realist art, such as Impressionism, was most admired and had most sway. There are typical American connections to this sort of modern art in the Regionalists, in Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, for example. Hopper differs from, say, Norman Rockwell, in that he presents us with unique views and cuts off pictures in unusual ways. An admirer of Edward Degas, who did pretty much the same thing, Hopper depicted life by constructing images from atypical angles and lighting and with figures that seem disconnected from each other which results in a sense of loneliness, eeriness or alienation. His subjects were modern even though his techniques were not.

Artwork that has a “voice”, that advances a world constructed of the artist’s guile and skill, interests a viewer to a much larger degree than any other conception. Some works garner intrigue by combinations of color or an overt suggestion, but a work that tempts us to imagine a cosmos uncannily different than our present mental model, ignites a delightful and useful spark. This is not to say that Hopper dabbles in Surrealism. He attempts to represent reality by  painting a mood or awareness. This mood or feeling is expressed by his iconic work, Night Hawks:

Night Hawks, Oil on Canvas, Art Institute of Chicago, Edward Hopper 1942

A Lot of silliness surrounds Night Hawks. Investigating this picture will result in thesis such as the anxiety of war, The Great Depression, the change from a production society to a consumer one, so forth and so on. Some of these arguments might make sense except that Hopper’s pictures carried similar emotional portrayals long before the Night Hawks. This is a personal statement, not the depiction of great societal forces. Nor should we be surprised by the division between the darkness of night and the stark light inside the diner, the abrupt distinction between inside and out. This is a common element of Hopper’s pictures. Nonetheless, the remarkable allusion to sanctuary, alienation and seclusion, emphasize the patterns of urban existence and invokes a feeling in an inimitable way, effective beyond many other images, even by so called great artists in the modern era.

Second Story Sunlight, Oil on Canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1960

Sunday, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection, 1926

Drug Store, Oil on Canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1927

Early Sunday Morning, Oil on Canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1930

Gas, Oil on Canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1940

Room for Tourists, Oil on Canvas, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1945

El Palacio, Watercolor on Paper, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1946

Pennsylvania Coal Town, Oil on Canvas, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, 1947

Prospect Street, Gloucester, Watercolor on Paper, Private Collection, 1928

Summer Interior, Oil on Canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1909

Chop Suey, Oil on Canvas, Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, 1929

Hotel Room, Oil on Canvas, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, 1931

New York Movie, Oil on Canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1939

Office at Night, Oil on Canvas, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1940

Summer Evening, Oil on Canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert H. Kinney, 1947

Rooms by the Sea, Oil on Canvas, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 1951

Morning Sun, Oil on Canvas, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, 1952

A Women in the Sun, Oil on Canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1961

Sun in an Empty Room, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection, 1963

Chair Car, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection, 1965

Cape Cod Afternoon, Oil on Canvas, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1936

Lighthouse at Two Lights, Watercolor on Paper, Collection of Blount Inc., Montgomery, Alabama, 1927

The Mansard Roof, Watercolor on Paper, The Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1923

South Carolina Morning, Oil on Canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1955

Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1925-30

Hopper was obviously not obsessed with the interactions of humans in an urban environment. He painted many landscapes and was skilled in watercolor. The heady estimation of Hopper was the result of carefully constructed interior scenes that provoked many of the impressions people have about the Night Hawks and other pictures. Hopper was more than just these select pictures and has an abundant body of work with similar techniques, but different approaches.

HBosler

http://www.midcenturymoderngroovy.com

self-portrait-in-red200.jpg


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s