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Edward Hopper (Nyack, July 22, 1882 – New York, May 15, 1967) was an American painter, famous above all for his portraits of loneliness in contemporary American life . He is considered one of the painters of the Ashcan school, which through Arshile Gorky led to abstract expressionism after the Second World War.
Born in Nyack, a small city on the banks of the Hudson River in a bourgeois family, Hopper enters the New York School of Art in 1900. In that institute, he will coincide with other future protagonists of American art of the early fifties: Guy Pène du Bois, Rockwell Kent, Eugene Speicher and George Bellows.
However, the contacts that will be essential for his training and for his development as a painter will be three of the teachers of the school: William Merrit Chase, who encouraged him to study and copy what he saw in museums; Kenneth H. Miller, who educated him in the taste for a clean and clean painting, organized in an ordered spatial composition and Robert Henri, who helped to free the art of the age from the weight of academic standards, thus offering an example active the young Hopper. After obtaining his degree, Hopper obtained his first job as an advertising illustrator at C. Phillips & amp; Company.
The House by the Railroad (1925), which inspired the house of the Bates in Psycho (1960), by Alfred Hitchcock.
In 1906, he traveled to Europe for the first time. In Paris, you will experiment with a formal language close to that of the Impressionists. Then, in 1907 he went to London, Berlin and Brussels. The personal and unmistakable style of Hopper, formed by precise expressive choices, begins to be forged in 1909, during a second stay in Paris for six months, also painting in Saint-Germain and Fontainebleau.
His painting is characterized by a peculiar and elaborate game between lights and shadows, by the description of the interiors, which he learns in Degas and which he perfected in his third and last trip abroad in 1910 to Paris and Spain, and for the central theme of loneliness. While in Europe Fauvism, Cubism and abstract art were consolidated, Hopper is more attracted to Manet, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Courbet, Daumier, Toulouse-Lautrec and a Spanish painter before all those mentioned: Goya. < / p>
The return to the United States
He returns definitively to the United States, where he will be established and will remain until his death. In these moments Hopper abandons the European nostalgia that had influenced him until then and begins to elaborate themes in relation to the American daily life, modeling and adapting his style to the daily life. Among the topics he deals with, there are a lot of representations of urban images of New York and the cliffs and beaches of nearby New England.
In 1918 he became one of the first members of the Whitney Studio Club, the most dynamic center for independent artists of the time. Between 1915 and 1923 he temporarily abandoned painting, dedicating himself to new expressive forms such as engraving, using the drypoint and etching, with which he will obtain numerous awards and recognitions, including one from the prestigious National Academy.
The success achieved with an exhibition of watercolors (1923) and another canvas (1924) make Hopper the reference author of the realists who painted American scenes. His evocative artistic vocation evolves towards a strong realism, which turns out to be the synthesis of the figurative vision together with the poetic feeling that Hopper perceives in his objects.
Through urban or rural images, immersed in silence, in a real and metaphysical space at the same time, Hopper manages to project into the viewer a feeling of distance from the subject and the environment in which he is immersed quite strongly by means of of a careful geometric composition of the canvas, by a sophisticated play of lights, cold, sharp and intentionally “artificial”, and by an extraordinary synthesis of the details. The scene almost always appears deserted; in his paintings we almost never find more than one human figure, and when there is more than one, what stands out is the alienation of the themes and the impossibility of resulting communication, which exacerbates loneliness. Some examples of this type of work are Nighthawks or Dispatch in a small city (1953).
In 1933 the Museum of Modern Art in New York consecrated the first retrospective, and the Whitney Museum the second, in 1950. Hopper died on May 15, 1967 in his New York studio, near Washington Square.
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