Sunday, August 19, 2007

Edward Hopper Exhibit

Finally got over to the MFA with my friend LT to see the Edward Hopper exhibit! It was the LAST day! It was annoyingly crowded, of course.

At the exhibit I especially focused on paintings I had never seen before. Yes, it was exciting to see "Nighthawks," but I really enjoyed the works unknown to me (many are from private collections). One was called "Night Windows."

THE most exciting viewing for both LT and me was "Chop Suey." I have seen this painting in print before, but it was mesmerizing to actually have it before me. Fantastic!

Overall, I think I appreciated Hopper's urban landscapes more than his Maine and Cape Cod paintings. I think this is where Hopper is unique (certainly he contributed to the concept of 'urban landscape', or, the city as beauty) Obviously Hopper was very interested in light, and, I think his use of artificial & natural light in the city scene is striking. Of course this use of light is also what evokes the mood of his paintings-- starkness, aloneness, vacantness, blankness.

I had a few revelations about Hopper's technique & aim. First, he contrasted the sharp lines and geometrical shapes of his buildings with round, soft forms (usually people or furniture). At the beginning of his career, the faces & identities of the people in his paintings were unfocused. Hopper seemed mostly interested in architecture and light. However, late in his career the people in Hopper's paintings (especially woman) take on more personality, & seem to tell a story. Interesting.
I also like how Hopper depicted subjects in their own private world, but in an urban setting. In his paintings, there seems to be a gulf of space between people. There also is a sense of immobility, (or death even) as if the people are objects too, & they can't possibly reach other.

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