delanceyplace.com 09/01/06 - edward hopper
In today's excerpt - the American artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967):
"Hopper's pictures truly seem to be located in a twilight zone, an interim condition. They reveal a world that is no longer in a state of innocence, but has not yet reached the point of self-destruction. His imagery is marked by a tremendous balance that is not yet equilibrium. It evokes no idyllic pre-industrial state, nor does it celebrate mechanization. Hopper shows us a situation that no other American artist captured in quite this way. ... This ambiguity, even indifference, made Hopper a forerunner of American Pop Art. Not so much a reliance on tradition as his conscious use of American set pieces from the environment made him a quintessentially American Painter. ...
"Hardly a trace of (faith in the blessings of technology) is found in Hopper. Once the diffuse religious feeling present in the earlier works had dissipated, nothing new replaced it. Only emptiness, a vacuum remained. Again, it was not so much Hopper's themes that were typically American, as it was his pictorial inventory, the actual things he depicted. Besides railroads, these included train stations and gas stations. As Pop artists pointed out, Hopper was likely the first painter ever to dignify the latter feature of American landscape by using it as a motif in art. ...
"We know that Hopper was a great admirer of Ernest Hemingway. In 1927, Scribner's Magazine, for which Hopper worked as an illustrator, published Hemingway's story, The Killers. Hopper wrote a letter to the editors, saying how refreshing it was to find such an honest piece of work in an American magazine, after wading through the endless, sugar-coated mush that was usually published. And, he added, the story made no concessions to mass taste, contained no divagations from reality, and had no spurious resolutions at the end. ...
"His ideal, which he knew to be unachievable, was to make his (paintings) 'with such simple honesty and effacement of the mechanics of art as to give almost the shock of reality itself.'
" 'I was never able to paint what I set out to paint.' "
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