Good News About Edward Hopper's Legacy

Philip Koch, Edward Hopper's Rooms by the Sea, oil on canvas, 42 x 63"

Above is a painting that's something of a love letter to the painting below by the famous American realist painter Edward Hopper. It's titled simply Rooms by the Sea and lives in the Yale University Art Gallery. When I was a teenager I saw this Hopper's oil reproduced in Time magazine and thought it was strange, but also pretty good. It was the first Hopper image I'd ever seen.

Little did I know back then I had just met the man who would have the biggest single influence on my career as a painter.

Hopper's painting is a fictionalized version of the corner of his painting room in the studio he had built for himself in 1934 out near the tip of Cape Cod in South Truro, MA. In a lot of ways its a hymn to the beauty of the sea and the famous Cape Cod light. My own painting is more naturalistic and is a bit more faithful to the actual arrangement of the doors, the sunlight, and the water. Considering all the restraints I allowed reality to place on myself, I didn't do half bad.

In the last couple years a dispute has brewed between those who want to preserve the land just north of the studio as it has been for decades, as pictured below, and a new landowner who has been constructing a mega-sized mansion just on the other side of the little white Hopper house. Just last night I learned from the current owners of the Hopper studio they've had a significant legal victory to restrain the people building the oversized new mansion.

If this holds up, I consider it to be a victory for everyone who values this living piece of American Art History, the land Hopper looked at every day while he painted dozens of his greatest masterpieces. If anything is worth preserving, this legacy is.

I'm scheduled to return this fall for my 13th residency staying and working in the Hopper studio. Naturally I've grown more than fond of it. Wanted to close with a pastel I did from life standing in the artist's kitchen looking into his bedroom. It's quite a view.

Philip Koch, Truro Studio Bedroom,
pastel, 14 x 7", 2006

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