Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Edward Hopper's Kitchen



Philip Koch, Edward Hopper's Studio Kitchen, oil on panel,
15 x 20", 1997

I've been scanning slides of my older paintings again to save them as digital files (kicking and screaming, I'm being dragged into the present day...). Here's one I scanned yesterday of a favorite painting done on my French easel in the kitchen of Edward Hopper's old painting studio in Truro, MA, on Cape Cod. It was done on one of the recurring residencies I've enjoyed in the place. Spending time there you discover little truths about this formidable painter.

One extravagance of the studio is it has the absolute maximum possible number of windows facing out in all directions. All provide an unobstructed view of the hump shaped dunes and the Cape Cod sky. Standing in the studio you have the feeling it is a sort of observatory for the Cape's legendary light. It literally catches both the first and last rays of each day's sunlight. And the light through the open kitchen door is the engine of contrast that makes my painting happen.

Some weeks ago I did a post showing a pastel drawing I did after this oil of the kitchen table at the left. It too featured a bunch of bananas. The bananas provided an elegant arcing shape to accompany the arc on the back of the wooden chair. And they provided relief from all the straight edges in the doorway and windows- the viewer's eye needs that.

At the time I commented on how humorously small the kitchen and its furniture were for as tall a person as Hopper. He consciously chose a tiny kitchen, bathroom and bedroom to allow the maximum space for his painting room. That, with its 10 foot tall north facing studio window can only be described as grand, though in a characteristically modest Hopper sort of way. It just shows the high priority Hopper put on his painting. It must have been a hoot to watch him eat his morning Wheaties at his mini-breakfast table.

The bananas have acquired cult-like status in my family. We had purchased them for our morning cereal but were only able to find very green ones. No worry, we thought, simply place them in the sun for a day and they'll ripen right up. Except they didn't. We kept them for a week and then just out of curiosity drove home from Cape Cod to my Baltimore studio with them. Still bright green.After another week of patiently waiting the still green bananas started to rot. I briefly entertained the thought of mailing them in a box to the Chiquita Company Headquarters but let it go. Still, I wonder if maybe I should have sprayed them with plastic when they were at their prime and used them as a hood ornament on my minivan.

3 comments:

  1. A residency...in Hopper's Truro house? Where do I sign up—is such a thing still possible (you said this was an "old" work)?? What a GREAT experience! And an truly fine painting, by the way, Philip.

    Regards and gratitude,

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  2. Hello Philip,
    Nice painting. I enjoyed all of your work, and your commentary did not bore me. I'll be back.

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  3. David,

    The Hopper studio is owned privately by a very large family that uses it primarily for their personal enjoyment. They have opted to keep it private use. I had the good fortune to become friendly with the family years ago when they began collecting my paintings.

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