Edward Hopper (1882-1967), New York Movie, 1939, Oil on canvas, 81.9 x 101.9 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; given anonymously, 396.1941, © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Digital Image. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) Office at Night, 1940, Oil on canvas, 56.4 x 63.8, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Gift of the T.B. Walker Foundation, Gilbert M. Walker Fund.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Study for Office at Night, 1940, Fabricated chalk and charcoal on paper, 38.3 x 49.8 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest  70.340.

Preparatory Drawings and Parsing Edward Hopper's Master Paintings

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942, Fabricated chalk on paper, 21.6 x 28.1 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest  70.195.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942, Fabricated chalk on paper, 21.4 x 27.8 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest  70.193.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Study for Office at Night, 1940, Fabricated chalk and graphite pencil on paper, 15 1/16 x 18 3/8 in. (38.3 x 46.7 cm), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest  70.341.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) Study for New York Movie, 1938 or 1939, Fabricated chalk on paper, 27.6 x 21.3, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, 70.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Self-Portrait, 1945, Fabricated chalk and charcoal on paper, 55.9 x 37.9, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, 70.287.

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
212-570-3600
New York
Peter Norton Family Galleries,
Third Floor
Hopper Drawing
May 23-October 6, 2013

Whitney Museum celebrates Edward Hopper’s achievements as a draftsman in the first major museum exhibition to focus on the artist’s drawings and working process. Along with many of his most iconic paintings, the exhibition features more than 200 drawings, the most extensive presentation to date of Hopper’s achievement in this medium, pairing suites of preparatory studies and related works with such major oil paintings as New York Movie (1939), Office at Night (1940), Nighthawks (1942) and Morning in a City (1944).

Culled from the Whitney’s collection of the artist’s work, and complemented by key loans, the show illuminates how the artist transformed ordinary subjects — an open road, a city street, an office space, a house, a bedroom — into extraordinary images. Carter E. Foster, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing at the Whitney, organized the show based on in-depth research into more than 2,500 works on paper by Hopper in the Whitney collection. These pieces trace the artist’s process of observation, reflection, and invention central to the development of his poetic and uncanny paintings. Works on view span the artist’s career, from early student exercises to Sun in an Empty Room (1963, private collection), one of the last paintings Hopper completed, and concentrate on mid-century sheets related to his best-known oil paintings.

“By comparing related studies to paintings, we can see the evolution of specific ideas as the artist combined, through drawing, his observations of the world with his imagination,” says Mr. Foster. “In other instances, his drawings provide a crucial form of continuity among thematically related paintings, a kind of connective tissue that allowed Hopper to revisit and re-examine ideas over time.”

While exhibitions and scholarly publications have investigated aspects of Hopper’s art — his prints, his illustrations, and his influence on contemporary art — this exhibition illuminates the centrality of drawing to Hopper’s work and allows a fresh look at his landmark contributions to 20th-century art. His drawings help to untangle the relationship between reality — what Hopper called “the fact” — and imagination or “improvisation” in his work. They ultimately demonstrate his responses to the world around him that led to creation of paintings that continue to inspire and fascinate.

Though the slowness and deliberation of Hopper’s creative process — and his relatively small output of oils — has long been noted, it is only through an examination of his drawings that we can understand the gestation of the artist’s ideas and the transformations they underwent from paper to canvas. However, the artist only occasionally exhibited or sold his drawings, retaining most of them for personal reference and using them throughout his career as he developed the lifelong themes and preoccupations of his major oil paintings.

Hopper’s education as an artist was fairly traditional, with intensive early training in drawing — particularly drawing the nude human figure. This included life drawing classes at the New York School of Art, where he studied from 1900 to 1906 with the celebrated exponent of modern American realism, Robert Henri. Early and formative travels to Paris and Europe between 1906 and 1910 produced an important body of work; the exhibition will include recently identified pages from his Paris sketchbooks, featuring lively and acute observations of street life and café culture. Later, in the 1920s, Hopper continued to hone his life drawing skills at the Whitney Studio Club (the precursor to the Museum), near his Greenwich Village studio. These skills served Hopper throughout his career, especially after the early 1930s, when he shifted from painting directly from nature to improvised subjects, deepening his drawing practice as he imagined ideas for his oils.

The exhibition opens with an overview of Hopper’s drawing career. As a draftsman, Hopper favored black chalk and the rich and subtle tone he was able to achieve with it. This section includes a number of highly finished sheets executed from life, as well as illustrations, portraits, and preparatory studies.

The exhibition continues with seven sections combining paintings with their preparatory studies and related works. One of the most significant of these brings together two of Hopper’s most important canvases, the Whitney’s Early Sunday Morning (1930) and Nighthawks (1942), lent by the Art Institute of Chicago. Nighthawks is, for the first time, shown with all 19 of its known drawn studies, including a highly finished sheet recently acquired by the Whitney for its permanent collection. These drawings show the development of every element of this iconic painting, from the massing of its oblique architectural space to the precise arrangements of figures around the nighttime coffee shop’s counter. Shown together, Early Sunday Morning and Nighthawks emphasize the artist’s interests in New York City’s shifting urban fabric, and the two pieces’ close conceptual relationship to one another as summations of his impressions of urban life. Groundbreaking archival research done in the course of the exhibition’s development has uncovered, for the first time, the precise building on Seventh Avenue on which Early Sunday Morning was based, as well as invaluable historic photographs of the Greenwich Village corners and architecture that inspired Nighthawks — questions that have puzzled historians of Hopper’s work for decades.

The exhibition also showcases Hopper’s magisterial 1939 painting New York Movie (lent by Museum of Modern Art) and the group of 52 preparatory studies Hopper made for this work, the largest number of drawings that exist for any painting in his oeuvre. These sheets trace Hopper’s nearly two-month long process of working through the idea for this piece, from his exploratory sketching trips in several Broadway movie palaces to a long and nuanced series of compositional studies for the dark, ornate interior depicted in the work, which he based on the Palace Theatre in Times Square. As with Early Sunday Morning and Nighthawks, photographic documentation of the actual sites that inspired the work are included in the display.

The exhibition provides similar insight into the creation of many of Hopper’s other celebrated paintings, such as Soir Bleu (1914, Whitney Museum), Manhattan Bridge Loop (1928, Addison Gallery of American Art) and From Williamsburg Bridge (1928, Metropolitan Museum of Art), Office at Night (1940, Walker Art Center), Conference at Night (1949, Wichita Art Museum), Gas (1940, MoMA), Rooms for Tourists (1945, Yale University Art Gallery) and a number of others. These works will be paired and grouped to emphasize the artist’s interest in and revisiting of a relatively narrow set of themes and subjects over the course of his nearly seven-decade-long career.

Hopper at the Whitney The work of Edward Hopper (1882-1967) has been presented often by the Whitney throughout the institution's history, beginning with the first-ever solo exhibition at Whitney Studio Club in 1920. Hopper was included in the first Biennial in 1932, and in numerous Annual and Biennial exhibitions throughout his lifetime. The Whitney organized two major lifetime retropectives of Hopper's work in 1950 and 1964. In 1970 the Whitney received more than 7,500 drawings, along with paintings, watercolors, and prints that were bequeathd by the artist's widow, Josephine. This group of works, which spans childhood drawings to major paintings, is the foundation for research and understanding of this singularly important figure in American art and culture. Since then, the museum has organized several major exhibitions of Hopper's work, including Edward Hopper: The Art and the Artist (1980-81), Edward Hopper and the American Imagination (1995) and most recently, Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time (2010-11).

About the Catalogue Hopper Drawing is accompanied by a richly illustrated, approximately 250-page catalogue designe by McCall Associates and distributed by Yale University Press. This catalogue, the first in-depth study of Hopper's drawings, is an indispensable resource for scholars and the public. It features a number of drawings reproduced for the first time, along with photographs an other archival materials that richly contextualize the works. Organized, like the exhibition, into a series of dossiers examining pairs or groups of related paintings and drawings, the catalogue was written primarily by Carter E Foster, including an extensive overview of Hopper's achievements as a draftsman. The catalogue also includes contributions by Daniel S. Palmer, Nicholas Robbins, Kimia Shaki, and Mark W. Turner.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Nighthawks, 1942, Oil on canvas, 33 1/8 x 60 in. (84.1 x 152.4 cm), The Art Institute of Chicago; Friends of American Art Collection 1942.51, © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942, Fabricated chalk and charcoal on paper; 28.3 x 38.1 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase and gift of Josephine N. Hopper by exchange  2011.65.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Study for New York Movie, 1938 or 1939, Fabricated chalk on paper, 21.3 x 27.8 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest  70.100.

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, Soir Bleu, 1914. Oil on canvas, Overall: 91.4 x 182.9cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1208. ©Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins.

Robert Henri, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, 1916, Oil on canvas, 127 x 182,9 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Flora Whitney Miller, Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Edward Hopper, the Most European of Modern American Artists

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, South Carolina Morning, 1955. Oil on canvas, 77.63 x 102.24 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Given in memory of Otto L. Spaeth by his Family 67.13 © Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, Seven A. M., 1948. Oil on canvas, 76.68 x 101.92 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase and exchange 50.8. © Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Steven Sloman.

Paul Strand 1890-1976, Wall Street, New York, (1915, printed 1976-77). Platinum palladium print, Sheet: 27.9 x 35.2cm Image: 25.7 x 32.2cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Michael E. Hoffman in honor of Sondra Gilman 91.102.2. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins.

George Bellows 1882-1925, Dempsey and Firpo, 1924. Oil on canvas, Overall: 129.5 x 160.7cm Frame: 148 x 178.4 x 7.9cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.95. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins.

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, New York Interior, ca. 1921. Oil on canvas, 61.6 x 74.3cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1200. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Robert E. Mates.

Raphael Soyer, Office Girls, 1936, Oil on canvas, 66 x 61 cm, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Charles Demuth 1883-1935, My Egypt, 1927. Oil and graphite pencil on fiberboard, 90.81 x 76.2 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.172.

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
800-944-8639
New York
Mildred & Herbert Lee Galleries, Second Floor
Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time
October 28, 2010-April 10, 2011

As American artists rebelled against the academic art and aristocratic portraiture that predominated at the turn of the 20th century, they began looking to modern life for subject matter. A central figure in this dramatic shift was Edward Hopper, whose work is exhibited in relation to his most important contemporaries in Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time.

American modern art at the beginning of the 20th century has been associated in Europe with one artist in particular: Edward Hopper (1882-1967). Hopper’s work is characterized by empty streets and landscapes, desolate buildings and by solitary figures in an urban setting. The places depicted in his paintings continue to shape our image of America. Modern Life. Edward Hopper and His Time presents major works by Hopper together with masterpieces from the collection of the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York. For the first time works by Hopper are shown within the context of their time. Through paintings, works on paper, sculptures and photographs the exhibition presents an impression developing modern art in America and sheds new light on the oeuvre of Hopper.

Placing Hopper beside artists such as Robert Henri, William Glackens, John Sloan, George Ault, Guy Pène du Bois, George Bellows, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Charles Demuth, Ralston Crawford, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, Charles Burchfield, Ben Shahn, Lisette Model, Thomas Hart Benton, and Reginald Marsh, the show traces developing realism in American art in the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition, organized by Whitney curator Barbara Haskell and senior curatorial assistant Sasha Nicholas, was shown previously in different form at Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, and Kunsthal Rotterdam.

In the Netherlands works by Hopper’s contemporaries are relatively unknown. The exhibition Modern Life compares Hopper’s work to movements in art he encountered during his career: to Ashcan School painters surrounding Hopper’s teacher Robert Henri and drew inspiration from day-to-day urban life; to avant-garde movements around Whitney Studio Club and Alfred Stieglitz’ 291 Gallery influenced by European movements; to social engagement by American Scene painters who captured traditions of rural areas; and to futurist works by Machine Age painters, who were inspired by industrial landscape and urban architecture.

The work of Edward Hopper (1882-1967) has been shown by the Whitney through the institution's history, beginning with his first solo exhibition at Whitney Studio Club in 1920, but Modern Life is the first Whitney show to focus on the context in which he worked. It follows his evolution into America's iconic realist painter, tracing connections to artistic movements that paralleled his work while also highlighting his development of an aesthetic that ultimately distinguished his art from that of his contemporaries.

The exhibition shows Hopper’s work as part of the divergent and at times contradictory movements in American art. Hopper shared fascination for cities with painters of the Ashcan School, for example, but was less interested in urban amusement, for instance in boxing matches, than George Bellows and less fascinated by New York society than Guy Pène du Bois. He painted American landscape as American Scene painters did, but in a way that can be considered more abstract than the realist scenes by Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry. A child of his time, Hopper imperceptibly integrated prevailing forces at work in American art into his visual universe. But at the same time he lent them a timeless character that makes them still relevant. Therefore up to now, Hopper has remained one of the most favourite of American art history.

Modern Life begins in 1900, the year that Hopper arrived on New York’s art scene. In the exhibition's first section, his art is seen alongside the work of the Ashcan School artists, who boldly depicted the changing social and political environment of New York using rapid, loose, impressionistic brushstrokes, heavy impasto, and a dark, gritty palette. In the first decade of the century, Hopper studied with both Robert Henri and John Sloan, and quickly began to exhibit with the artists in their circle. The lessons Hopper learned from them — especially the urge to paint everyday, even mundane subjects, and a passion for capturing dramatic light effects — were immediately evident in his early paintings. Among the wealthy art patrons of the time, only Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney would stake her reputation and fortune on the work of the Ashcan artists and their successors. Her advocacy, crucial to the flourishing of a distinctly American modernism, led to the founding of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1930 and to the formation of the collection on view in this exhibition.

The next section of Modern Life examines Hopper's relationship to artists who painted the excitement of urban life in the "Roaring Twenties," including Guy Pène du Bois and George Bellows who, like Hopper, were students of Robert Henri and represented a younger generation of the realist school initiated by the Ashcan group. These artists, together with sculptors such as Gaston Lachaise, departed from the loose brushwork of the Ashcan aesthetic, instead using smooth curves and monumental, tubular forms to depict their figures. Purged of anecdotal detail, their compositions are balanced between the idealized forms of abstraction and the particularities of realism. Though not as stylized as the work of these artists, Hopper's paintings and prints of the 1920s share a similar approach. Works like his iconic Early Sunday Morning are drawn from observed reality and yet are devoid of characteristic details that tie them to a specific place and time. Hopper was not interested in the lively social world depicted by many of his colleagues, but he shared their interest in capturing moments of solitude and in using bold, simplified forms to infuse his scenes with dramatic monumentality.

Also explored are the connections between Hopper's art and that of the Precisionists, who began to paint American factories, skyscrapers, and machine-made structures during the 1920s. Characterized by crisp lines, hard-edged geometric shapes, and flat planes of color, the Precisionist style embodied the sense of order, logic, and purity identified with science and the machine. For many of the Precisionists, including Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, and Ralston Crawford, this style also reflected a desire to create a distinctly American aesthetic rooted in shared national experience. Although Hopper did not share their optimistic embrace of industry and its hard-edged aesthetic, his work of the period shares certain affinities with theirs. For Hopper, as for the Precisionists, architecture offered a means of exploring formal geometries and light effects. In Hopper's paintings of urban scenes and industrial structures, as in those of the Precisionists, the interaction between diagonal planes and expanses of light is often as much a focal point as the subject itself. Both Hopper and the Precisionists depicted recognizable subjects, but their work conveys in equal measure the desire to reduce modern architectural forms to their abstract essence.

The next section of the exhibition examines Hopper's rural paintings of the 1930s in the context of other American artists who retreated to the countryside in search of a reprieve from the commotion of modern urban life. In 1930, Hopper and his wife Jo began spending summers in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he painted the coastal landscape and scenes inspired by the small town life he observed there. Together with Charles Burchfield, who painted in and around Buffalo, New York, Hopper came to represent the movement known as American Scene painting. Both artists elicited from the vernacular architecture and landscapes of small town America a mood of desolation and melancholy, in part for a way of life that was rapidly being abandoned as more people moved to urban centers. For many viewers, their art captured the sturdy individualism at the heart of the American ethos, particularly during the hardships of the Great Depression.

The exhibition's final room presents Hopper's urban paintings of the 1930s alongside those of the Social Realists, including Reginald Marsh, Paul Cadmus, and the Soyer brothers, Raphael and Isaac. Hopper was friendly with these artists — all were closely allied with the Whitney Studio Club and exhibited frequently at the Whitney Museum after its opening in 1931. At the time, Hopper's depictions of city life were often associated with those of the Social Realist circle, but his images differ from the work of his contemporaries, who gravitated to the chaos and vitality of urban life in the 1930s. Unlike his peers, Hopper uses the city as a springboard for exploring moments of solitude, transforming scenes of everyday life into meditations on the human condition.

Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time includes approximately 85 works in a range of media, primarily from the Whitney’s collection, which includes more than 2,500 works from Hopper's estate bequeathed to the Whitney in 1968, and combining well-known works with rarely exhibited early paintings and works on paper. Also featured are several loans of key Hopper paintings from other museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Neuberger Museum of Art. Nearly all the works by other artists in the show are from the Whitney’s collection, with the exception of a John Sloan painting, The Haymarket, Sixth Avenue (1907), originally owned by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, now in the collection of The Brooklyn Museum. In addition, the exhibition features a case of photographs of Hopper at work, with other artists, and at various stages of his life, drawn from the archives of the Whitney's Frances Mulhall Achilles Library.

Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time is accompanied by a 250-page illustrated catalogue with essays by American and German scholars, produced in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title, which appeared at the Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, and the Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2009-10.

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, (Self Portrait), 1925-1930. Oil on canvas, 64.14 x 52.39 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1165. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Robert E. Mates.

 

Everett Shinn 1876-1953, Revue, 1908. Oil on canvas, 45.72 x 60.96 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.346. Photograph by Geoffrey Clements.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Chop Suey, 1929, Oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. Barney A. Ebsworth.

Edward Hopper's Poignant Depictions of Town and Country in America

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Morning Sun, 1952, Oil on canvas, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Howald Fund.

Edward Hopper, New York Movie, 1939, Oil on canvas, 32-1/4 x 40-1/8", The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Edward Hopper, Evening Wind, 1921, Etching, Courtesy: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

 

National Gallery of Art
National Mall at Constitution Avenue
202-737-4215
Washington, D.C.
Edward Hopper
September 16, 2007-January 21, 2008

The classic works of Edward Hopper (1882-1967) capture the realities of urban and rural American life with a poignancy and beauty that have placed them among the most enduring and popular images of the 20th century.

This exhibition of about 50 oil paintings, 25 watercolors, and 12 prints, arranged chronologically and thematically, reveals Hopper as a creator of compelling images who produced remarkably subtle and painterly effects in both oil and watercolor. It will also examine how his images were seen by his contemporaries in the middle decades of the century.

The Edward Hopper exhibition is the first time in more than 25 years — in the case of Boston and Washington, more than 50 — that a comprehensive exhibition of Hopper's work has been seen in American museums outside New York.

This comprehensive survey focuses on the period of the artist's great achievements — from about 1925 to mid-century — when he produced such iconic paintings as Automat (1927), Drug Store (1927), Early Sunday Morning (1930), New York Movie (1939), and Nighthawks (1942).

Edward Hopper is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where it debuted May 6 through August 19, 2007; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, where it was on view September 16, 2007 through January 21, 2008; and The Art Institute of Chicago, where it was seen February 16 through May 11, 2008.

"The National Gallery is pleased to present this new exploration of a very fertile period in Edward Hopper's career when he produced some of the outstanding masterpieces of modern American art," said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art.

"We are pleased to join the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago in investigating how his images were seen in his own time. We welcome the sponsorship of Booz Allen Hamilton, who helped bring this important show to our nation's capital."

From the late 1920s, Hopper was recognized as one of the most profound American artists, praised for his mastery at painting light, for his direct, eloquent realism, and for his unique sensitivity to modern American life.

He excelled as a painter in oils, as a watercolorist, and as a printmaker, and this exhibition presents his greatest work in all three media. The assembled art includes some of Hopper's best-loved images as well as seldom seen works of extraordinary quality and power.

A group of paintings and prints from the late 1910s and early 1920s introduces his signature subjects, and reveals his beginnings as an artist influenced by both the American Ashcan school and a fin-de-siècle sensibility to which he was exposed during student years in Paris.

The core of the exhibition is dedicated to the mature, highly original images for which he is justly famous: majestic Maine lighthouses; Manhattan apartments, restaurants, and theaters; and the old-fashioned houses of Gloucester and Cape Cod. Hopper's career spanned six decades, and in his epic late paintings, created during the ascendancy of abstract expressionism, he remained a staunch realist, his style marked by increasing simplicity and austerity.

 

Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940, Oil on canvas, 26-1/4 x 40-1/4", The Museum of Modern Art, New York.