Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In the Beginning: Edward Hopper

Some people laughed back in December 24th of 1956 when Time Magazine (it was an important publication then, with an actual raison d'ĂȘtre) featured Edward Hopper (1882-1967) on its cover. Hopper was derided as old-fashioned, somebody who couldn't get with the abstract expressionist program. As it turned out, Time's editors in those days were better judges of artistic worth than many of the rest of us (I too was a brainwashed modernist). Hopper, nearly 50 years after his death, is considered a very important American painter and exhibits of his work draw large numbers of people.

For details on Hopper's career, here is his Wikipedia entry. It seems that Hopper worked as an illustrator at first in order to make a living doing art. But as Paul Giambarba in his blog "100 Years of Illustration" suggested, Hopper really didn't seem to enjoy that line of work. Nevertheless, he kept at it into his 40s until he was able to fully transition to fine arts painting and engraving.

Many painters in this occasional "In the Beginning" series of posts made extreme changes in style from their early days to their days of fame. Hopper was not one of them. His illustrations were influenced by the needs of art directors, so we can't give them much weight when evaluating the early Hopper. But his non-landscape paintings definitely prefigure his mature style. Mostly they lack the later refinement and clarity.


Chop Suey - 1929
One of Hopper's better known paintings to set the scene.

Couple Drinking - 1906-07

Le Pont des Arts - 1907
Two scenes from his Paris days.

Summer Interior - 1909
He later painted many such interior scenes featuring young women in isolation.

New York Corner (Corner Saloon) - 1913
This hints at later streetscapes.

Illustration for "Your Employment System" - July 1913
One of his nondescript illustrations.

Soir Bleu - 1914
I'm not sure what to make of this because it is so atypical.

Road in Maine - 1914

Blackhead Monhegan [Maine] - 1916-19
Hopper spent time in Maine and did some landscapes. His later, famous landscapes include structures such as houses and lighthouses.

Morse Drydock Dial magazine cover - May 1919
More illustration work. He had to keep at it well into the 1920s.

No comments: