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Published by EF041008 on 2009/2/3

Edward Hopper, whose paintings depict a particular slice of the American experience, was a witness to his times.

He was the painter of urban solitude or melancholic landscapes of the East Coast.
He should most likely be considered one of the greats of modern American painting.

Includes a video of Hopper.

Hopper was born in 1882 in Nyack, in the state of New York. His family owned its own 
business. Hopper was destined very early to study art. His parents obliged him to start his
schools by learning commercial illustrations, to garantee him revenues.

He joins first the School of Illustrating, and then the New York School of Art. His masters are
William Merritt Chase and then under the direction of Robert Henri, one of the fathers of
American Realism.

After a stay of nine months in Europe, where he first heard about Gertrude Stein (cf Picasso
and the allure of language
) he moved permanently to New-York in 1908 where he
worked as an illustrator and publicity artist. Little by little, he left this activity behind to devote
himself entirely to painting.
He traveled two more times to Europe, especially to Paris, but also to Spain. Then, back in 
the United States, he visited different regions, including Massachusetts and Maine.

Road in Maine, 1914 Cape Cod afternoon, 1936

In 1920, he does his first solo exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club but fails to sell his
paintings. He begins to doubt about him. He settles in Greenwhich village where he meets
his future wife Jo Nivision.

This new environment attracted success. He did a second solo exhibition  in Rehn Gallery in
New York and it was a success. HIs painting The House by the Railroad entered the Museum
of Modern Arts as well as the Early Sunday Morning, which entered the Whitney Museum in
New York.
From 1930 onward, Edward Hopper spent summers in South Truro, Cape Cod,
Massachusetts, and three years later, he had a house built there. He would regularly
travel to Cape Cod up until the end of his life.
New York and Cape Cod were so opposite and yet so complementary that they would 
have a powerful influence on Hopper’s painting.

As subjects, Edward Hopper often took buildings or houses at different times of the day.
He was as interested in rural areas as he was in urban scenes. But in either case, one
observes the same particular atmosphere of melancholic solitude.
Cape Cod inspired several of Hopper’s paintings. He painted different light houses in this
region of New England, including Highland Light in 1930, but also landscapes, like Corn Hill
in 1930 or scenes of daily life, like Cape Cod Afternoon in 1936. Hopper was able to
reproduce with passion and simplicity the light and colours and the beauty of the landscapes
of Cape Cod.
Gregory Dicum, a journalist from the New York Times prepared a comparative commentary
of the places that Hopper painted on Cape Cod and recent photos of these same places.
One can still find this peaceful atmosphere, almost frozen, that Hopper rendered in his
paintings. Until his final days, the painter remained devoted to this region of New England.

He passed away in New York in 1967

This article has been written by Jean Falsanisi.

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