April 11, 2011 / 10:08 AM / 7 years ago

New exhibit opens window into artist Edward Hopper

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A new exhibit promises to shed light on the life and work of one of the 20th century’s most iconic artists -- Edward Hopper.

<p>Edward Hopper's Freight Cars, Gloucester, 1928. Oil on Canvas, is seen in this undated handout photograph. A new exhibit promises to shed light on the life and work of one of the 20th century's most iconic artists -- Edward Hopper. "Freight Cars, Gloucester," painted during his last working summer in Gloucester, shows his unique perspective, his use of architecture and the industrial paraphernalia of an rapidly industrializing world. REUTERS/Fenimore Art Museum/Handout</p>

“Window into Edward Hopper” at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, which opens on May 28, will show some of the American artist’s early sketches, etchings and water colors in a rare glimpse into his early development.

“Our curatorial focus is to look at the maturing of his artistic vision to try to understand how he became what he was,” said Paul S. D‘Ambrosio, chief curator at the Fenimore.

The exhibit, which features works drawn from private collections, contrasts Hopper’s early life drawings with the startling turn he takes as he begins to find his own definitive style.

“Hopper’s greatest, most original print, ‘Night Shadows’ (1921) uses a plunging perspective that is both exhilarating and disorienting and that sets up an anxious relationship with the street below,” wrote Carol Troyen, author of Edward Hopper, in an article written for the Fenimore’s exhibition.

There have been many big Hopper exhibitions, but none have had the Fenimore’s focus on earlier works, according to D‘Ambrosio.

Those include schoolboy drawings of figures in exotic costumes, turn of the century studies from when Hopper was a student at the New York School of Art, and a striking portrait of William Merritt Chase, the 19th century exponent of American Impressionism and one of Hopper’s early teachers.

There are also works for those seeking Hopper’s breathtaking later oil paintings.

His sweeping landscape “The Camel’s Hump,” which he painted in 1931, and “Freight Cars, Gloucester,” done a few years earlier, are expected to be the two “show stoppers,” said D‘Ambrosio.

<p>Jackson Pollock's "Number 34, 1949", 1949, Enamel on Paper mounted on masonite which is seen in this undated handout photograph. A new exhibit promises to shed light on the life and work of one of the 20th century's most iconic artists at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Fenimore is teaming up with the Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York to show a selection of early to mid-20th century American artists including Jackson Pollock's "Number 34". After the mold of the tormented artist Pollack died in a car crash in 1956. The chaos of his uproarious splatter paintings seem to mirror his unsettled life but belie a deeper structure and harmony below the surface. REUTERS/Fenimore Art Museum/Handout</p>

“The Camel’s Hump,” which was painted during Hopper’s second summer on Cape Cod, evokes a similar sense of isolation and disquietude that are found in his better known urban scenes.

“Freight Cars, Gloucester,” painted during his last working summer in Gloucester, shows his unique perspective, his use of architecture and the industrial paraphernalia of an rapidly industrializing world.

“No other artists would have done this,” said D‘Ambrosio. “It is an incredible array of forms and shapes; the rectangles, the triangles, the diagonals.”

Modernism is unchartered territory for the Fenimore, said D‘Ambrosio, who is hoping to attract a new demographic, using Hopper as the center piece of the exhibition.

The Fenimore is also teaming up with the Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York to show a selection of early to mid-20th century American artists including Jackson Pollock.

“Prendergast to Pollock: American Modernism from the Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute,” will include Pollock’s “Number 20” and “Number 34”, both painted in the late 1940s.

After the mold of the tormented artist Pollack died in a car crash in 1956. The chaos of his uproarious splatter paintings seem to mirror his unsettled life but belie a deeper structure and harmony below the surface.

The exhibitions are complemented by a performance of “Later the Same Evening”, a one-act opera inspired by five Hopper paintings at the Glimmerglass Festival, also in Cooperstown.

Both exhibitions run until early September and have joint ticketing arrangements. “Later the Same Evening” runs from July 21 to August 22.

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