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Edward Hopper

 (1882 - 1967)
Edward Hopper was active/lived in New York, Massachusetts.  Edward Hopper is known for town-landscape, genre and figure painting.

Edward Hopper

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Biography from the Archives of askART

Born and raised in Nyack, New York, Edward Hopper became one of the best-known painters of 20th-century American genre and landscape.  He was especially known for interiors with isolated figures, for rural landscapes and marine scenes.  During much of his career, he lived half of the year in Greenwich Village, New York in a row house facing Washington Square and the other half of the year near Truro, Massachusetts on water with a view towards Provincetown.

Hopper, used to water views from childhood, was raised in a home on the Hudson River.  He showed early art talent.  Following two years of illustration work in 1901, he became a student at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri, the latter being credited by Hopper as his most influential teacher.

In 1907, he went to Paris and was exposed to Impressionism, which affected his interest in light and pattern but did not dissuade him from basic realism with defined shapes, many of them from architecture.  Between 1915 and 1928, he completed nearly seventy etchings and drypoints, much influenced by the light-contrast techniques of Rembrandt and Meryon.

In 1929, he spent three weeks in Charleston, South Carolina, and produced eleven watercolors, mostly outdoor landscapes but one a church interior. 

Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

Biography from Spanierman Gallery
"My aim in painting has always been the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impressions of nature."

Few artists have painted so honest and revealing a portrait of America as did Edward Hopper. His timeless images of the wayside night cafe, the empty movie theatre, and the Victorian house by the railroad track all live in memory as the ultimate rendering of those subjects.

Born in Nyack, New York, along the Hudson River, Hopper began to study art in the local schools before seeking instruction in commercial art in New York City in l899. From l900 to about l906 he studied at the New York School of Art under Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, both of whom urged their students to concentrate on modern subjects. Among his fellow students were George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Guy Pene du Bois.

Between l906 and l9l0, Hopper made three European visits of several months each, spending most of his time in Paris. Living quietly with a French family, he did not study in an art school but painted on his own. The artists he looked at and admired were those Henri had suggested---Goya, Manet, Degas, Sisley and Pissarro. The later two showed up as the first major influences of his street views of Paris.

Back home in these same years, Hopper was painting aspects of the native scene that few artists had attempted. Although the Ashcan group---Henri, John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks and Everett Shinn---concentrated on the visual aspects of the metropolis, Hopper was the first to capture the inner feelings of the city and suburban dwellers themselves. "Railroad Train" (Addison Gallery of Art) and "The El Station" (Whitney Museum of American Art), both of l908, were transitional works showing Hopper's movement away from Henri's dark tonalities of the period toward outdoor light and color effects.

Little recognition came his way at first and Hopper was forced to concentrate on illustration work to make a living. He stopped painting completely for a time and, around l9l9, took up etching, capturing on the plate his concepts of everyday life in America that contained the essentials of his later paintings: uncompromising realism, absolute simplicity of statement and a sense of mood that raised it above mere naturalism.

His etchings were accepted in major exhibitions and won prizes for the artist; this encouragement led him to take up painting again, both in oil and watercolor, a medium in which he proved to be a master. In l927, a showing of his oils at the Rehn Gallery in New York definitely established his reputation.

From about l920 on, a number of younger artists including Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Burchfield, Reginald Marsh, John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood joined Hopper in a nationalist school dedicated to painting the native scene in a more or less naturalistic style. Hopper's masterpieces of the l920s and l930s: "House by the Railroad" (l925, Museum of Modern Art), "Automat" (l927, Des Moines Art Center) and "Lighthouse at Two Lights" (l929, Metropolitan Museum of Art) formed the core of this American Scene Movement.

Hopper's vision was unique. The people inhabiting his city and suburban scenes are lonely, anonymous, temporary inhabitants of sometimes inhospitable environments. When there is no human element, he transfers these qualities to the architecture or even to the landscape itself, using intense light to infuse human emotion.

There is a frugality in Hopper's work, a careful selection of people, buildings and interiors, just as there was to the man himself. He worked in the same studio on Washington Square for fifty-four years, rarely venturing out, except for summers in New England and an occasional visit to the Southwest. He died in his studio on May l5, l967.

Edward Hopper is represented in every major institution in the United States.

Biography from The Johnson Collection
Edward Hopper was born in Nyack, New York, a small town on the Hudson River. Hopper expressed an interest in art from an early age and was encouraged by his parents who purchased art books and supplies for him. Following high school, Hopper determined that he wanted to become an artist but he initially studied commercial art so that he would have some career security. He enrolled in the New York School of Illustrating in 1899, but soon transferred to the New York School of Art where he studied with the school's founder, William Merritt Chase, as well as with Kenneth Hayes Miller and Robert Henri. Hopper remained at the school for seven years and cited Henri as his most influential teacher.

In 1906, Hopper made his first voyage to Europe, and stayed primarily in Paris. Although this was a critical point in the evolution of modern art, Hopper claimed to have not been affected by these new developments and remained committed to realism. Many of his early paintings were based on what he saw and experienced in France, Spain, Germany, Holland, and England. Hopper set up his own studio in Manhattan in 1910 and participated in the famed Armory Show of 1913 where he sold his first painting. In 1920, he was given his first solo exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club. Living in Greenwich Village, he rekindled a friendship with an old classmate from the New York School of Art named Josephine Nivison. The couple married in 1924.

Hopper also had an exhibition at the Frank K.M. Rehn Gallery in 1924 that met with great critical success. He grew into his mature style over the next few years that consisted of mostly sparse landscapes featuring nostalgic images of buildings or scenes of urban isolation. By 1925, Hopper was able to support himself solely with his paintings, bought a car, and traveled with his wife throughout the United States and Mexico. The New England coast proved to be one of their favorite destinations and they built a summer home in Cape Cod in 1933. A second show at the Rehn Gallery in 1927 cemented Hopper's reputation as an important figure in the American art world. Over the next four decades, Hopper's reputation grew and he became one of the most respected artists in the country. In 1929, he was included in the Museum of Modern Art's second major exhibition, Paintings by Nineteen Living Americans.

Hopper and his wife traveled to Charleston, South Carolina in 1929 where he produced eleven paintings, mostly architectural and beach scenes. Their trip occurred during a period of artistic revitalization in the city known as the Charleston Renaissance. The couple stayed for three weeks and associated with the local artists and citizens. While there Hopper visited St. John's Lutheran Church, possibly at the suggestion of Mrs. Wulbern, the owner of the boardinghouse where they stayed, and it became the subject of his only known painting of a church interior. Hopper was also interested in the city's unique houses, with their unusual sideways positioning. He and his wife explored the Lowcountry and visited the surrounding, rural areas where he painted isolated cabins and palmetto trees along the coast.

Edward Hopper died on May 15, 1967 in his New York studio. Upon his death, his widow donated a large body of his work to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Today his work is included in major collections throughout the United States and abroad. He is now considered by many to be one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Biography from Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Edward Hopper studied at the New York School of Art with Robert Henri and William M Chase from 1900-1906.  Hopper was a true 20th-century American Realist who produced stark compositions meant to reflect the isolation of modern life.  He established a studio in 1910 in New York City and worked as a commercial artist until the '20s.

Hopper is best known for his subject matter of a lone individual in front of an open window or several people together but lost in thought which evoke a sense of loneliness and longing.

Hopper exhibited his work in the 1913 Armory Show and then abandoned painting for the next ten years.  His work proceeding this break shows bright color but with no warmth, creating a somber mood.  Horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines are precise but abstracted. Early Morning Sunday (1930) is a good example of these techniques.  It shows a row of two-story brick houses in a cold morning light with only the barber pole and hydrant on the street, making a statement about urban barrenness.

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About  Edward Hopper

Born:  1882 - Nyack, New York
Died:   1967 - New York City
Known for:  town-landscape, genre and figure painting

Essays referring to
Edward Hopper

New York Armory Show of 1913
Painters of Nudes