Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hopper, Edward

Oil on canvas
74 x 111.8 cm
Gift of Dora Sexton Brown, 1962
Delaware Art Museum, USA

Hopper, Edward (1882-1967). American painter.
He painted American landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, expressing the world around him as a chilling, alienating, and often vacuous place. Everybody in a Hopper picture appears terribly alone. Hopper soon gained a widespread reputation as the artist who gave visual form to the loneliness and boredom of life in the big city.

Summertime conveys the feeling of a sweltering day in New York City.  The curtain on the window seems set in motion by an interior fan, emphasizing the lack of air.  The strong verticals and horizontals of the architecture and sidewalk give the illusion of space horizontally and vertically extended beyond the picture plane.  A solitary female figure in a clinging dress, based on preparatory drawings of the artist’s wife, Jo, creates a counterpoint to the compositional, almost abstract, starkness of the background architecture and the play of light and cast shadows.  Hopper’s artistic manipulation of the scene to convey a mood of eerie loneliness within the formally balanced backdrop of an impersonal city block is most readily evident in the lack of eye pupils and the incorrectly formed shadow of the female figure.  Devoid of any specific narrative, the painting as a whole projects the vast emptiness of modern urban existence.