Monday, July 16, 2007

Edward Hopper in Boston- Now in Washington's National gallery of art

If you like Edward Hopper's work, you can't miss Boston's Museum of Fine Arts exhibition. So many paintings together, including most of his masterpieces, it literally took my breath away.
It's a once exited not reentering one, so I kept going back to see it over and over again like a ping pong ball. I was really lucky to catch this one by chance, as I only spent little more than a day in Boston and I didn't know about it (thank god for the street banners!).
Specially haunting was New York restaurant (or how the back of a woman can become the main character and say so much about how she feels, felt so related to her), which he painted when he was 40. Not a "cool" choice, may seem a bit minor and ornamental but the painting is so much more eloquent when seen "in flesh".
House at dusk was also so impressive, and in this one as in many others it's the colour palette that's the key, and in most books you're deprived of his best asset (the colours in the lighthouses, the sky...)
Then there are those pictures I don't like at all, like Sunday.
The exhibit is relatively expensive ($23) and crowded (this is a really popular painter, after all), but soo worth it, you'll love this man's work so much more after this. Really sad to have to finally leave as I know I'll never see most of those paintings again.
He manages to stop time and motion in his paintings and to add "the element of silence" that Burchfield remarked, he also manages to suck the emotions off his subjects and replace them with a most particular different emotion. In his words "My aim in painting has always been the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impressions of nature".He paints his impressions, which to me seem in a way so close to the real world and at the same time so alienated from it.
And now a little "gossip" about his curious life:
*He studied in a prestigious art school in New York and everybody there, specially teachers, thought he was called for "higher heights". Nevertheless that would be a long road for him, and soon he'd be forced to work in commercial art (something it seems he hated) as his works didn't sell. Success would finally arrive to him in his forties, after accentuating his style (can only imagine the frustration all those years)
* His definite rise to fame was due to chance: in 1924, walking home from being rejected by an art gallery he'd been recommended to where friends where showing their works, he passed the Rehn Gallery and decided to give it a try "Rehn told Hopper he could not see him. Relenting, he said that if Hopper wanted to spread out his watercolours in the back room, he would look at them when he returned from lunch. Before he left, a customer stopped in front of ((...) one of the works). Rehn sold him the picture at once, forgot about lunch, and began to represent Hopper" (source: "Edward Hopper, an intimate biography"- Gail Levin). That these things are always ultimately left to chance... and Hopper definitely got to know the cold shoulder.
*Even when famous, he was very vulnerable to negative criticism of his work
*When he was 42, he married a painter he'd met in art School and remained with her until his death. They never had children.
*Their relationship was difficult and stormy, see the article. She was his model in most of his work because, among other things, she was jealous of him painting any other woman (if there was more than one woman in a painting, she would act for the different roles, as in "Chop Suey"). He was selfish and ruthless with her. He was even jealous of her cat because of the attention it got from her. She resented him for not supporting her as a painter. Nevertheless they isolated themselves together and couldn't live any other way.
*His last painting (Two comedians) shows him and his wife dressed as Pierrot and columbine in a final bow from an empty stage. Closure.
So he fits into category B of creative genius stereotypes?
Other labels: Edward Hopper exhibition National gallery of art Washington

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