Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The Edward Hopper exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was really stunning - it's stayed with me far more than I would have imagined before I went there. Part of that was mere ignorance of the breadth of his work - the incorporation of abstract values in hyper-realistic paintings; the sensitivity to light, line and form; the juxtaposition of structures with the landscape; the utter brilliance of his characterizations with a minimum of commentary - such a dramatic artist, especially given that so many of his paintings have no people in them at all. And part of it was something Wim Wenders alludes to in his commentary on Nighthawks (and I'll be paraphrasing my ass off here) "The painting you are about to look at is dangerous. You have seen it many times, it is familiar, you think you know it. But close your eyes: how many people are seated at the counter? What is written above the awning? Is there a streetlamp? Another visible source of light? Are any of the windows across the street open? Is there a gun in one of them?" And he went on to discuss how cinematic Hopper was - how much he owes the movies and how much more the movies owe him (points echoed by the detail that Steve Martin - a big collector - loaned a number of pieces to this exhibition, and narrated a documentary about Hopper).

And it's all true, of course. Almost worth the trip to Boston just to see this work.

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