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Edward Hopper

[hop-er]

Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882May 15, 1967) was an American painter and printmaker. While most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching.

Life

Born in upper Nyack, New York to a prosperous dry-goods merchant, Hopper studied illustration and painting in New York City at the New York Institute of Art and Design. One of his teachers, artist Robert Henri, encouraged his students to use their art to "make a stir in the world". Henri, an influence on Hopper, motivated students to render realistic depictions of urban life. Henri's students, many of whom developed into important artists, became known as the Ashcan School of American art. Hopper studied under Henri for five years.

Upon completing his formal education, Hopper made three trips to Europe, each centered in Paris, to study the emerging art scene there, but unlike many of his contemporaries who imitated the abstract cubist experiments, the idealism and detail of the realist painters resonated with Hopper. His early projects reflect the realist influence with an emphasis on colour and shape. Eschewing the usual New England subjects of seascapes or boats, Hopper was attracted to Victorian architecture, although it was no longer in fashion. According to Boston Museum of Fine Arts curator Carol Troyen, "He really liked the way these houses with their turrets and towers and porches and mansard roofs and ornament cast wonderful shadows. He always said that his favorite thing was painting sunlight on the side of a house."

While he worked for several years as a commercial artist, Hopper continued painting with moderate success yet not as much as he wanted. He sold a variety of small prints and watercolors to tourists and minor publications yet received only a casual if warm response from curators and gallery owners.

According to Troyen, Hopper's "breakthrough work" was The Mansard Roof, painted in 1923 during Hopper's first summer in Gloucester, MA. His former art school classmate and later wife, Josephine Nivison Hopper, suggested he enter it in the Brooklyn Museum annual watercolor show, along with some other paintings. The Mansard Roof was purchased by the museum for its permanent collection, for the sum of $100.

In 1925 he produced House by the Railroad, a classic work that marks his artistic maturity. The piece is the first of a series of stark urban and rural scenes that uses sharp lines and large shapes, played upon by unusual lighting to capture the lonely mood of his subjects. He derived his subject matter from the common features of American life — gas stations, motels, the railroad, or an empty street — and its inhabitants.

Hopper continued to paint in his old age, dividing his time between New York City and Truro, Massachusetts. He died in 1967, in his studio near Washington Square, in New York City. His wife, painter Josephine Nivison, who died 10 months later, bequeathed his work to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Other significant paintings by Hopper are at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Des Moines Art Center, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Though Hopper's works are very accessible, he was seen, often, as extremely alienated since he had given up commercial illustration to dedicate his professional life to painting.

Works

Themes

The most well known of Hopper's paintings, Nighthawks (1942), shows customers sitting at the counter of an all-night diner. The diner's harsh electric light sets it apart from the dark night outside, enhancing the mood and subtle emotion of the painting. The painting conveys the elements of confinement and isolation. One critic, Walter Wells, sees in the picture the influence of Ernest Hemingway's story, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place," both picture and story representing a "sanctuary against the ultimate night [i.e. death] in a world without God or spiritual solace."

Hopper's rural New England scenes, such as Gas (1940), are no less meaningful. "Gas" represents "a different, equally clean, well-lighted refuge.... ke[pt] open for those in need as they navigate the night, traveling their own miles to go before they sleep." Brilliant sunlight (as an emblem of insight or revelation), and the shadows it casts, also play symbolically powerful roles in Hopper paintings such as "Early Sunday Morning" (1930), "Summertime" (1943), "Seven A.M." (1948), and "Sun in an Empty Room" (1963).

In terms of subject matter, Hopper can be compared to his contemporary, Norman Rockwell. Hopper's work exploits empty spaces, represented by a gas station astride an empty country road and the sharp contrast between the natural light of the sky, moderated by the lush forest, and glaring artificial light coming from inside the gas station. Most of Hopper's paintings have a concentration on the subtle interaction of human beings with their environment and with each other. Like stills for a movie or tableaux in a play, Hopper positions his characters as if they have been captured just before or just after the climax of a scene

Selected works

Chief works of Edward Hopper (oil on canvas unless otherwise noted):

title date collection themes photos
Painter and Model 1902-1904 Whitney Museum of American Art painter, woman, nude, canvas
Bridge in Paris 1906 Whitney Museum of American Art Paris, bridge
Le Pont des Arts 1907 Whitney Museum of American Art Seine, bridge, Louvre
Après-midi de juin 1907 Whitney Museum of American Art Louvre, Seine, bridge
Les lavoirs à Pont Royal 1907 Whitney Museum of American Art Seine, wash-house, bridge
Louvre and Boat Landing 1907 Whitney Museum of American Art Louvre, Seine, pier
The El Station 1908 Whitney Museum of American Art station, tracks
Summer Interior 1909 Whitney Museum of American Art woman, room, bed, nude
The Louvre in a
Thunderstorm
1909 Whitney Museum of American Art Louvre, Seine, bridge, boats
Le Pont Royal 1909 Whitney Museum of American Art Louvre, Seine, bridge
Le Quai des Grands Augustins 1909 Whitney Museum of American Art bridge, street, building
Le pavillon de Flore 1909 Whitney Museum of American Art Louvre, Seine
The Wine Shop 1909 Whitney Museum of American Art bistro, bridge, couple
American Village 1912 Whitney Museum of American Art street, house, cars
Squam Light 1912 lighthouse, houses, boats
Queensborough Bridge 1913 Whitney Museum of American Art New York, bridge
Soir bleu 1914 Whitney Museum of American Art clown, couple, woman, cigarettes
Road in Maine 1914 Whitney Museum of American Art Maine, nature, road
Blackhead, Monhegan 1916-1919 Whitney Museum of American Art Maine, landscape, sea
Stairways 1919 Whitney Museum of American Art stairs, door, woods
Night Shadows (etching) 1921 Museum of Modern Art man, street, night, building
The New York Restaurant c. 1922 Muskegon Art Museum
Michigan
restaurant, couple, woman
Railroad Crossing 1922-1923 Whitney Museum of American Art train tracks, road,
house, woods
The Mansard Roof (watercolor) 1923 Brooklyn Museum house, trees
The Locomotive (etching) 1923 Hirschl & Adler train tracks, men, tunnell
House by the Railroad 1925 Museum of Modern Art train tracks, house
Self-Portrait 1925-1930 Whitney Museum of American Art self-portrait
Sunday 1926 Phillips Collection
Washington, D.C.
man, street, buildings
Drug Store 1927 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston pharmacy, night, street
Lighthouse Hill 1927 Dallas Museum of Art lighthouse, house, hill
Coast Guard Station 1927 Montclair Art Museum house
Automat 1927 Des Moines Art Center woman, café, window,
night, fruit, radiator
The City 1927 University of Arizona Museum of Art city, streets, buildings
Night Windows 1928 Museum of Modern Art night, window,
woman, building
Manhattan Bridge Loop 1928 Addison Gallery of
American Art
New York, tracks, lamp-post
Railroad Sunset 1929 Whitney Museum of American Art train tracks, landscape, twilight
The Lighthouse at Two Lights 1929 Metropolitan Museum of Art lighthouse, house
Chop Suey 1929 Barney A. Ebsworth Collection café, women, couple,
windows, sign
Early Sunday Morning 1930 Whitney Museum of American Art street, buildings,
street furniture
Tables for Ladies 1930 Metropolitan Museum of Art restaurant, women,
couple, fruits
Corn Hill
(Truro, Cape Cod)
1930 McNay Art Institute,
San Antonio
houses, hills
Cobb's Barns, South Truro 1930-1933 Whitney Museum of American Art barn, landscape, hills
New York, New Haven
and Hartford
1931 Indianapolis Museum of Art train tracks, houses, trees
Hotel Room 1931 Fondation Thyssen-Bornemisza hotel, room, bed,
woman, reading
Dauphinée House 1932 ACA Galleries train tracks, house
Room in New York 1932 Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery
and Sculpture Garden
hotel, couple, reading, table
House at Dusk 1935 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts building, woman, trees,
stairs, sea
The Long Leg 1935 The Huntington Library Collection sailboat, sea, dunes,
lighthouse
Macomb's Dam Bridge 1935 Brooklyn Museum bridge, river,
city, buildings
The Circle Theater 1936 Private collection theatre, street, building,
street furniture
Cape Cod Afternoon 1936 Museum of Art,
Carnegie Institute
Cape Cod, houses
Compartiment C,
Car 193
1938 IBM Corporation Collection train, woman, reading, bridge
New York Movie 1939 Museum of Modern Art New York, cinema,
woman, staircase
Cape Cod Evening 1939 National Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C.
Cape Cod, couple, dog, house, woods
Ground Swell 1939 Corcoran Gallery of Art boat, sea, swell,
woman, men
Gas 1940 Museum of Modern Art gas station, man, woods, road
Office at Night 1940 Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) desk, woman, man, window
Nighthawks 1942 Art Institute of Chicago bar, woman, men,
night, street
Dawn in Pennsylvania Terra Museum of
American Art
train tracks, train, buildings
Hotel Lobby 1943 Indianapolis Museum of Art hotel, couple, woman, reading
Summertime 1943 Delaware Art Museum woman, building, windows
Solitude 1944 Private collection house, woods, road
Morning in a City 1944 Williams College Museum of Art woman, nude, room,
bed, window, city
Rooms for Tourists 1945 Yale University Art Gallery house, night
August in the City 1945 Norton Gallery of Art
West Palm Beach
house, woods
Summer Evening 1947 Private collection couple, night, house
Pennsylvania Coal Town 1947 Butler Institute of
American Art, Youngstown OH
house, stairs, man
Seven AM 1948 Whitney Museum of American Art morning, woods, house
Noon 1949 Dayton Art Institute house, woman
Conference at Night 1949 Wichita Art Museum woman, men,
window, night
Cape Cod Morning 1950 National Museum of American Art Cape Cod, woman, house, woods
Rooms by the Sea 1951 Yale University Art Gallery rooms, sea, door
Morning Sun 1952 Columbus Museum of Art woman, room, bed,
window, city
Hotel by a Railroad 1952 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden room, couple, window,
city, reading
Sea Watchers 1952 Private collection couple, sea, house, wind
Office in a Small City 1953 Metropolitan Museum of Art desk, man, window, buildings
South Carolina Morning 1955 Whitney Museum of American Art woman, house
Hotel Window 1956 The Forbes Magazine Collection hotel, window, woman, city
Four Lane Road 1956 Private collection couple, gas station, road,
woods, chair
Western Motel 1957 Yale University Art Gallery hotel, car,
landscape, woman
Sunlight in a Cafeteria 1958 Yale University Art Gallery café, woman, man,
window, street
Excursion into Philosophy 1959 Private collection couple, room
window, book
Second Story Sunlight 1960 Whitney Museum of American Art couple, reading, house, woods
People in the Sun 1960 National Museum of American Art
Washington, D.C.
landscape, reading, men,
women, road, sun
A Woman in the Sun 1961 Whitney Museum of American Art woman, nude, window,
bed, landscape
New York Office 1962 Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts New York, desk, woman, window
Intermission 1963 Private collection woman, armchair
Sun in an Empty Room 1963 Private collection room, window, woods
Chair Car 1965 Private collection woman, reading
Two Comedians 1965 Private collection couple, costumes, theatre

Exhibitions

In 1980 the groundbreaking show, "Edward Hopper: The Art and the Artist," opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art and visited London, Dusseldorf, and Amsterdam, as well as San Francisco and Chicago. For the first time ever, this show presented Hopper's oil paintings together with drawings on paper, which were his studies for those works. This was the beginning of Hopper's popularity in Europe and his large worldwide reputation.

In 2004, a large selection of Hopper's paintings toured through Europe, visiting Cologne, Germany and Tate Modern in London. The Tate exhibition became the second most popular in the gallery's history, with 420,000 visitors in the three months it was open.

In 2007, an exhibition focusing on the period of Hopper’s greatest achievements—from about 1925 to mid-century— was under way at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The exhibit comprises fifty oil paintings, thirty watercolors, and twelve prints, including the favorites Nighthawks, Chop Suey, and Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery of Art , Washington, The Art Institute of Chicago and sponsored by the global management consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton.

Influence

Hopper's influence on the art world and pop culture is undeniable. Homages to Nighthawks featuring cartoon characters or famous pop culture icons such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe are often found in poster stores and gift shops. Although this example does not, Hopper often used his wife as the model for female figures. The cable television channel Turner Classic Movies sometimes runs a series of animated clips based on Hopper paintings prior to airing films.

Hopper's cinematic, wide compositions and dramatic use of light and dark has also made him a favorite among filmmakers. For example, House by the Railroad is said to have heavily influenced the iconic house in the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho. The same painting has also been cited as being an influence on the home in the Terrence Malick film Days of Heaven.

Singer/songwriter Tom Waits's 1975 live-in-the-studio album is titled Nighthawks at the Diner, after the painting.

Noted surrealist horror film director Dario Argento went so far as to recreate the diner and the patrons in Nighthawks as part of a set for his 1976 film Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso).

In 1993, Madonna was inspired sufficiently by Hopper's 1941 painting, "Girlie Show", that she named her upcoming world tour after it and incorporated many of the theatrical elements and mood of the painting into the show.

To establish the lighting of scenes in the 2002 film Road to Perdition, director Sam Mendes drew from the paintings of Hopper as a source of inspiration, particularly New York Movie.

In 2004 British guitarist John Squire (formerly of The Stone Roses fame) released a concept album based on Hopper's work entitled Marshall's House. Each song on the album inspired by, and sharing its title with, a painting by Hopper.

Canadian rock group The Weakerthans released their album Reunion Tour in 2007 featuring two songs inspired by and named after Hopper paintings, "Sun in an Empty Room", and "Night Windows", and has also referenced him in songs such as "Hospital Vespers".

Polish composer Paweł Szymański's Compartment 2, Car 7 for violin, viola, cello and vibraphone (2003) was inspired by Hopper's Compartment C, Car 193.

German film director Wim Wenders's 1997 film The End of Violence incorporates a tableau vivant of Nighthawks, recreated by actors.

Each of the 12 chapters in New Zealander Chris Bell's 2004 novel Liquidambar (UKA Press/PABD) interprets one of Hopper's paintings to create a surreal detective story.

Hopper's influence reached the Japanese animation world in the dark cyberpunk thriller Texhnolyze. Hopper's artwork was used as the basis for the surface world in Texhnolyze.

Hopper's painting Early Sunday Morning was the inspiration for the sleeve of British band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's 1985 album, "Crush"

Hopper's Painting New York Movie was featured in the Tv Show Dead like Me. The Girl standing in the corner was compared to the character of Daisy Adair.

See also

Bibliography

  • Levin, Gail. Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography' (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995; Rizzoli Books, 2007.)
  • Levin, Gail. ''Hopper's Places (New York: Knopf, 1985; 2nd expanded edition, University of California Press, 1998.)
  • Levin, Gail. Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonne (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1995).
  • Wells, Walter. Silent Theater: The Art of Edward Hopper (London/New York: Phaidon, 2007).
  • Wells, Walter. Un théatre silencieux: l'oeuvre d'Edward Hopper (London/New York: Phaidon, 2007)
  • Wells, Walter. Il teatro del silenzio: l'arte di Edward Hopper (London/New York: Phaidon, 2007)
  • Cook, Greg, "Visions of Isolation: Edward Hopper at the MFA", Boston Phoenix, May 4, 2007, p.22, Arts and Entertainment.
  • Healy, Pat, "Look at all the lonely people: MFA's 'Hopper' celebrates solitude", Metro newspaper, Tuesday, May 8, 2007, p.18.

References

External links

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