Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Edward Hopper House Art Center, Grand Finale



For those of you who've decided I'm off the charts nuts when it comes to Edward Hopper it probably wouldn't be a good idea to give you any additional evidence. But, despite years of therapy I've just have to share with you the last batch of photos I took of Hopper's boyhood home.
Please be understanding...

Above is my wife Alice standing outside the Edward Hopper House Art Center, one block from the historic Hudson River in downtown Nyack, New York. Check out the wild architecture of the blue turreted house next door. I imagine it excited young Edward's imagination as a boy, with him perhaps picturing it in his mind as a castle with knights and princesses. It sure would have pushed my fantasies that way.

Here's Alice and our daughter Louisa standing on Hopper's front porch right outside his front doorway.



The Art Center has lovingly preserved the feeling of the place, keeping just as much of the rooms and furnishings as they could as they were in Hopper's 18 years in the house. Below is my niece Jenny walking down the central hall with the open front door in back of her.



Here's Hopper's bedroom again, this time seen from the second floor hallway. Two of the three windows    in his room are shown. The window at the left faces due East towards the Hudson River. I believe Hopper's life long love of strong early morning sunlight had its beginnings right here. The morning sun would have absolutely blasted into the room from these windows and awakened him daily. Perched up on the high second floor of the home, it was a safe lookout from which the reclusive future artist observed the world, starting a pattern he followed his entire life.



Turing the camera a bit to the right, here's me in front of the fireplace in Hopper's bedroom as seen from the second floor hallway.



Here's the wide, clunky floorboards in the room.




Here's one of the smaller rooms back downstairs. I'm standing next to one of the early easels Hopper painted on as he was just starting out.





One of his paintboxes  full of his brushes and paints.






















And here's the one bathroom Hopper had in the house with the original claw footed bathtub at the right. The toilet and sink look to me to have been put in probably after Hopper moved out. His sister Marion continued to live for the rest of her life in the house and died only a few years before Hopper.







The is the back of the house.





And this is the backyard, taken from the top of the steps in the above photo. That's Jenny and her husband John standing among the just fallen leaves. I wonder if young Hopper was given the job of raking the leaves up every fall in what is a very large yard.





Back in the house again, here's the largest room which must have been the Hopper's living room. The Art Center has turned it into a regular exhibition space for changing exhibits of local and national artists.


Another view of the main gallery with the front hall in back and the Art Center's bookstore and front desk in the far room.


This next view is taken in the main gallery looking to the adjoining smaller gallery.



Here's Jenny and Alice together in that back gallery.


I've always seen in Hopper a deep attachment to nature. To me there's a demonstrable romantic side to him that always comes out when he paints forests or hillsides. Less than a mile up the street is the state park containing the Palisades of the Hudson. These are really tall cliffs, I'm guessing off the top of my head they might be approaching 1000 in height. And they are steep. We went for a long hike along their base, with the cliffs looming over us on one side and the Hudson River lapping gently on the other. It was a fantastic setting.




Certainly young Hopper knew the cliffs well and must have been struck by them. I would have had imagined he would have wanted to paint them a lot ( I certainly would like to do a whole series of paintings from them), but that's putting my own direction in painting onto Hopper. He always insisted on choosing his own subjects and they tended toward far more modest and contained spaces. What he chose reveals much of his unique eye. Therein lies much of his greatness as a painter. If anyone ever followed his own drummer, it was this guy Hopper.

I'd strongly urge all Hopper lovers to visit Nyack and tour the Edward Hopper House Art Center and check out the area. You will love it. And you'll have a much deeper sense of what Hopper was all about.

Thanks for bearing with me, and I will now give Hopper a little rest on this blog, at least for a little while. Saginaw Art Museum out in Michigan just opened their feature exhibit Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch last weekend. I'll be showing pictures of the exhibit and talk about my time out at the 
Museum. Here's a preview of the next blog post, a photo of the entrance to the show.






3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tour Philip. I have read about the house in a biography or two of Hopper but it is nice to see the real thing. It looks just as I had imagined it! I didn't realize those cliffs were near by which I assume are the same one seen in HRS paintings . Sanford Gifford did some beautiful paintings of them.

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  2. Deborah, glad you enjoyed the photos. The Hopper House is quite something- very modest but comfortable. The Hopper family was prosperous by the standards of the time- his father owned a local hardware store I believe and the house has a great water view of the Hudson even though it's a block off the water. I'm sure even in the late 1800's such property was valuable.

    Yes the Palisades Gifford painted so well are right there. I'd never seen them upclose like this before and was blown away by their scale. To those of us who share the old Hudson River School tendency to get swept away by the more awesome sides of nature, this seems like a natural as a subject, and Gifford for one jumped on it.

    To Hopper I guess the vastness of the cliffs didn't jibe with his more intimate and urban sensibilities. I can't think of many Hopper landscapes from his mature period that qualify as "panoramic." He seemed to lean towards the close in view to get his best results. As painters you and I probably lean more in Gifford's romantic direction.
    That's all good- part of the amazing diversity to be found in realist painting.

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