Monday, April 27, 2009

Edward Hopper at SF Museums

This piece - The Bridle Path is owned by SFMOMA but isn't on exhibit. When I did a search at the De Young and the Legion, I was hoping to see some of Hopper's iconic, light filled pieces but it looks like they have only (mostly?) graphic works and none of them are on display.
East Side Interior, 1922

For Hopper, the complete separation of the real and the abstract, and the depreciation of realistic representation and the elevation of pure abstraction as the be-all and end-all of art -- its transcendental fundament, so to speak -- was not the advance in artistic wisdom the modernists claimed it to be. It was an unwitting artistic decadence, a dubious Solomon’s wisdom, for it destroyed what Kandinsky called the "welcome complementation of the abstract by means of the objective and vice versa."

The "ultimate ideal," as he said, is their "absolute equilibrium," and we see that in Hopper’s pictures. It is the "ever-varying balancing act" between "the ‘purely artistic’ and ‘objective’," to again use Kandinsky’s words, in Hopper’s pictures, that gives them an Old Master consummateness, suggesting the inadequacy of purely abstract or (social) realistic art. Both are one-sided, and because of that lost their vitality and became self-stereotyping, that is, dead-end mannerisms. Hopper’s pictures are not products of the mass culture industry, which is what a good deal of contemporary abstraction and realism, with their brittle flashiness, seem to be. (Kuspit)

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