Maier Museum of Art Acquires Work by Philip Koch
Philip Koch, Edward Hopper's Studio, Truro, vine charcoal, 7 x 14 inches, 2020, Maier Museum of
Art at Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA
I'm happy the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College in Virginia has acquired my drawing above for their permanent collection. The drawing touches on my own history and the role seeing the work of the Edward Hopper played in my own career. While my own art is quite different than that of Edward Hopper I count his as my best teacher. As a young painter I began by making abstract canvases. But after it seeing his strong light and solid volumes it felt as if Hopper had tapped me on the shoulder saying "You know you really want to be a realist."
My drawing was inspired both by my many residencies staying and working in Edward Hopper's studio on Cape Cod and by a particular Hopper painting in the Maier Museum's collection, Mrs. Scott's House. Initially I'd known of the Maier painting through reproductions. It fascinated me for the almost other-worldly starkness in its massive rolling sand dunes.
Edward Hopper, Mrs. Scott's House, oil on canvas, 1932, Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College
Hopper fell in love with Cape Cod on his first visit in 1930 and began searching for a location to build a painting studio. Two years later he painted Mrs. Scott's House, a house and outbuilding a few hundred yards from the spot where he would build his own studio.
My charcoal drawing was done in preparation for a large studio painting I made of Hopper's studio-
Philip Koch, Edward Hopper's Studio, Truro, oil on canvas, 28 x 56 inches, 2020, private collection
If you were to stand today in the vantage point for my painting, you would find Mrs. Scott's House is just over your right shoulder.
The art in museums can shake us out of our normal habits. Seeing the Maier's Hopper reminded me everything has a changing history, even the appearance of a landscape. In Hopper's day much of Truro's dunes were largely bare (19th century famers cleared off thousands of trees). Hopper, who had an eye for the unexpected, loved this and used it to distinct advantage in his paintings of Cape Cod, probably most tellingly in Maier's painting.
Mrs. Scott's House reminded me painting can speak to us about the passage of time- about how much change I had witnessed since I started staying in the Hopper studio in 1983. The hillsides I found then were gradually reforesting. Today the view in my drawing has been all but obscured with new trees. It struck me I needed to make a drawing and a painting that change.