Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More on Edward Hopper


Here's a quintessential Edward Hopper oil of Cape Cod, The Long Leg. It's a combination of influences. There is some of the lighthouse at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown (the next town over from Truro, where Hopper had his studio). And there's a lot taken from Hopper's walking his beach along Cape Cod Bay and studying the structure of the sand dunes, tides, and the Cape light.

Hopper loved the poetry of Cape Cod as a source for his paintings. It's remarkable how different his Cape Cod looks than anyone else's. One thing he loved was the white sand that's everwhere on the Cape. In his hands it was by turns yellow, pink, pearl, subtle blue or delicately violet. Yet he always held the reins back on its colors, never lapsing into cheesiness or overstatement. I think it was because he took the Cape seriously. He realized it could stand on its own as one of the most dramatic pieces of landscape in the country without any overstated theatrical color.

The subtle palette he chose for the beach sands in the above painting slides effortlessly from warmer to cooler hues as one moves one's eye from left to right. He used such gradations to impel his viewer to move through the painting's space.

Below is a photo looking up at his studio from the path Hopper would take to the beach. I took it last month the first morning we were staying in the studio.



And here below is a vine charcoal drawing I did, Hopper Studio:First Light, that was drawn from a point higher up on the same path, looking at the studio from a different angle. As you can see, the studio is high up.



Here's a view of my wife Alice walking up the path from about the same place.




And here's the view from the front of the studio with me looking out over Cape Cod Bay. The deck I'm standing on was only added in 1983, long after Hopper died in 1967. Hopper kept the studio fairly spartan and just had a couple of steps leading directly down to the sand.





Here's Alice again standing in front of the doorway from the big painting room on the north end of the studio to the deck in the last picture. This is the doorway that Hopper was inspired by to paint his oil masterpiece Rooms by the Sea now in Yale's Art Museum (see following image).






Everyone's gotta eat. Here below is Hopper's modest kitchen, with Alice clutching her morning coffee. She's sitting at Hopper's tiny dining table.





And here's a small pastel I did of the same table.




Last of all, here's my favorite photo I took inside the studio. It's the view from Hopper's bedroom looking out into the kitchen. The picture has some of the solemnity of Hopper's paintings but also gives a taste of the amazing light that flooded into his studio. He used that light to create paintings that speak to the hearts of millions of people. It's a paradoxically modest studio, it gave birth to a host of Hopper's most remarkable paintings.






2 comments:

  1. The utter simplicity of his life, pared down to the essentials, very intoxicating. For me, at 70, finally able to make and explore painting w/little else to interfere. this lack of stuff and rooms to take care of, would free up even more time to create. Even for the viewer of his art made in these simple surroundings, the peace and quiet, the space to think is riveting. What coud they do with it? When I couldn't create I filled my life with stuff and noise. Now I am slowly paring away, viewing this place and looking again at the simplicity of his work, just the light, he created a life in this place like he created his paintings. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. Terry

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  2. Terry, thanks for your thoughtful observations. You describe well a key part of Hopper's personality and his universal appeal. It's funny as so much contemporary art seems to get wrapped up in "stuff and noise" that I think most of us want less of in our lives. Hopper's a wonderful example of someone paring it down to the essentials while keeping the energy, richness, and mystery that makes us come back for a second look. What a wonderful teacher he is (if only by example).

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