'Step Inside' Edward Hopper Artworks With 2 Kinds of 3-D Experiences in Museum Shows

  • December 01, 2019 20:31

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EDWARD HOPPER, CAPE COD MORNING, 1950. Oil on canvas, 86.7 x 102.3 cm. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation © Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gene Young
image courtesy Fondation Beyeler

Edward Hopper's seemingly stark and angst-y paintings of 20th-century America are hitting chords with audiences today. One of his most famous works, Chop Suey, sold at Christie’s New York for $92 million last year. Museum shows are covering different subject areas within the American realist's oeuvre, too.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a sweeping show of 60 Hopper paintings, drawings, watercolors and illustrations, along with postcards and diaries written by his wife, fellow artist "Jo" (Josephine).  Edward Hopper and the American Hotel explores Hopper's imagery of hotels, motels and mobility. A 3-D recreation of Hopper’s 1957 painting, Western Motel, is part of an overnight experience that visitors could book (through February 23, 2020).

Edward Hopper, "Western Motel," 1957. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
image courtesy of VMFA

After its debut at VMFA, the exhibition will travel to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Indianapolis, IN.

A spring exhibition (January 26-May 17, 2020) at The Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, will focus on Hopper’s iconic representations of the infinite expanse of American landscapes and cityscapes, with watercolors and oil paintings dating from the 1910s to the 1960s. To date, this aspect has rarely been highlighted in exhibitions devoted to Hopper, yet it is key to understanding his work and its reception. 

EDWARD HOPPER, RAILROAD SUNSET, 1929 Oil on canvas 74.5 x 122.2 cm Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest, Inv. N.: 70.1170. © Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich Photo: © 2019. Digital image Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala
image courtesy Fondation Beyeler

Although Hopper long worked mainly as an illustrator, today he is known primarily for his oil paintings, which attest to his deep interest in color and his virtuosity in representing light and shadow. Hopper’s paintings are expressions of his unique perspective on modern life: gas stations, houses, bars, lighthouses and boats, as well as interior views of homes, hotels and movie theatres. The few human figures that appear in his works often seem to be looking out from the painting, as if what is “happening” in the image were not accessible to the viewer. Invisible events seem to be taking place outside the picture.

A highlight of the Fondation Beyeler exhibition, which was organized with the Whitney Museum, will be the screening of a short film by renowned director and photographer Wim Wenders. Inspired by Hopper’s “American spirit”, the film will be shown in 3-D projection.

Tags: american art

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