30 June 2013

The Œuvre of Edward Hopper: Day 30

I came to Edward Hopper's work in college, when I was working on an honour's project about the disappearance of my great-great grandfather in the fifties. John Omerza, it was said, disappeared from Ely, Minnesota without a trace, a whole series of rumours following after him. I knew the version of the story in which he drown in quick sand in the wilderness of the boundary waters where Ely is sat, on the edge of the American frontier.

Hopper's eye is drawn to people looking out of windows. I love how you can always see the sun in a Hopper painting, even though it is not in the frame.

I deliberately chose a few of the paintings I dislike of Hopper's (see Day 7 and Day 12); ones in which his people are embarrassingly bad. I understand the point: the figure as an idea. But I don't see the idea, not like I see the ideas in Rothko. I just see a mannequin.

I also didn't choose Hopper's most famous painting, the one I have seen the most in person at the Art Institute in Chicago with Bacon, and that Gustave Caillebotte painting that Heather and I sat in front of in the Summer of 1999. We were there with my parents and sister, I remember: I have a picture pasted in a journal from the day. These others I don't remember seeing in person, but there must have been one or two I have seen along the way, in New York or London.

Hopper, in my mind, is a great artist, but not all of his art is great. I hope this month has made that point clearly.