Room in New York, 1932
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is showing a retrospective of Edward Hopper's work, which started Sunday and runs until August 19. I love Hopper's paintings. I know that Nighthawks is the apex of noir art, if there is such a thing, inspiring both filmmakers and novelists; but I've come to appreciate his other work much much more.
That starter novel that hides somewhere on my hard drive, the hard copies withering and decomposing within my file drawers, was greatly inspired by Hopper's work - it's not his fault the thing was so pretentious, that blame is the burden of a beginning MFA student who was trying too hard to write like someone he was not. (See?!? MFA's are dangerous if not used correctly) Each chapter of that terrible terrible novel was named after one of Hopper's paintings, Sun in an Empty Room, New York Movie, Room in New York. Each painting is a sad commentary on life, which was what I was trying to accomplish with disasterous results. Someday I hope to revisit some of the plot elements of that wretched novel, but with an entirely different approach - something less MFA.
I can't wait to see some of these paintings in person. So far I have only had the pleasure of reproductions in coffee table books and a framed poster that hangs above our bed.
Slate.com has posted a slide show essay on Hopper and his work. It's worth checking out. If your only exposure to Hopper is Nighthawks, I implore you to look at his other paintings. While his most famous work is a wonderful study of solitude and despair, it is only a minor reflection of the more heartbreaking and intimate images this great artist was capable of producing.
Sun in an Empty Room, 1963