Friday, July 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Edward Hopper, a great American painter

I see that the de Young will be having their Friday Night Festivities, but I prefer to celebrate the day by looking at Edward Hopper's glorious work and reflecting on his life and talent.

Born July 22, 1882, Hopper struggled for many years before selling his first painting (1911 for $250).

The popularity of "Nighthawks" has meant that it's been turned into kitsch, showing up in t-shirts, coffee cups and the ubiquitous dorm poster. But all that cheap popularity has not lessened its power. The inspiration for the picture may have come from Ernest Hemingway's short story The Killers, which Hopper greatly admired, or from the more philosophical A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. In keeping with the title of his painting, Hopper later said, Nighthawks has more to do with the possibility of predators in the night than with loneliness, (Wikipedia)

Nighthawks. 1942

"Hopper deliberately shows his people from outside, at unguarded moments, bored or dreamy, rarely engaging with the painter's gaze. They are caught flatly, as in the photographic moment, with all the mystery of their thoughts intact, avoiding the layered intrusion of portraiture. More importantly, they are merely small components of a bigger picture. What really interests Hopper, and what makes him a great painter, is his wider subject--not individuals but the human species, perching here on the immensity of earth. Hopper is a painter who shows us how we look in the perspective of the wide, inhuman spaces beyond our inhabited thresholds. And his ordinary people (like the sunlight-worshipping woman in Morning Sun) are caught looking out from their little lives at the beyond, just as he does. " New Statesman (1996) 133.4689 (May 24, 2004): p38(2). From Expanded Academic ASAP.

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I love "Nighthawks" but never knew who painted it or anything else about it. I love his women on the train in hats, too. Those paintings are new to me. Thank you for introducing me to him!