Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Across The Street"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


And a happy Sunday to you.

On my list of personal favorite painters, Edward Hopper is in the top 5.  When I am lucky enough to stand in front of one of Hopper's paintings in a museum, I always sigh.  I stay for a while.  I'm always in awe.  There's a connection with me - his choices of subjects - stately homes in New England, urban scenes, sunlight's angles on windows and sidewalks, quiet, lonely, still scenes of city streetscapes, maybe just one person in the painting or nobody.  Delicious colors.  

Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite Hopper's 'Early Sunday Morning', which hangs in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City - one of more than three thousand works bequeathed to the museum by Hopper's wife in 1968.  The 1930 painting is, Hopper said, 'almost a literal translation of Seventh Avenue' - reduced to bare essentials.  Each individual window gives hint to the different people in each unit, and although Hopper originally included one lone figure in a window, he removed it, deciding it wasn't needed to convey anything more.  It is quintessential 20th century American realism.

Edward Hopper was born in Upper Nyack, New York in 1882 -  his parents encouraged his art, kept him stocked with materials, illustrated books, instructional guides, and in his teens, he was creating watercolors, oils, charcoals and pen-and-inks.  He went on to the New York School of Art and Design - became an illustrator which he came to hate, traveled to Europe several times, ended up back in New York reluctantly returning to advertising and illustration.

Hopper experienced long periods of inertia, not knowing what to paint - in a funk so to speak.  At one point, he turned to etching, producing over 70 pieces of urban scenes of New York and Europe.  They are notably the beginnings of his painting subjects down the road - solitary figures, interiors of the theater, nautical scenes, etc.  He and his wife worked in the theater, creating backdrops for plays - and I always thought 'Early Sunday Morning' felt like one of those backdrops - as if you were across the street from this typical row of businesses and upper floor apartments.

One of my favorite quotes from Edward Hopper - 'Maybe I am not very human - what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house'.  I can dig that.  I often feel the same.

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