Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Oil on canvas
A consummate American Scene painter of the 1930s and 1940s, Edward Hopper, my favourite american artist, depicted landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, representing the modern world around him as a lonely, alienating place. Born in Nyack, New York, in 1882, he showed an early inclination towards the Visual Arts and attended the New York School of Illustrating and the New York School of Art where he studied with William Merritt Chase. He also studied with Robert Henri whose paintings of unadorned, everyday city life propelled him to focus his artistic efforts on like subjects. Drawn to exterior and interior architectural settings usually inhabited by solitary figures or groups of non-communicating individuals, Hopper captured the atmosphere of urban life through a style of painting that uniquely blended realism with abstraction.
Summertime conveys the feeling of a sweltering day in New York City. The curtain on the window seems set in motion by an interior fan, emphasizing the lack of air. The strong verticals and horizontals of the architecture and sidewalk, based on preparatory drawings of a particular building Hopper later altered in the finished painting, give the illusion of space horizontally and vertically extended beyond the picture plane. A solitary female figure in a clinging dress, based on preparatory drawings of the artist’s wife, Jo, creates a counterpoint to the compositional, almost abstract, starkness of the background architecture and the play of light and cast shadows. Hopper’s artistic manipulation of the scene to convey a mood of eerie loneliness within the formally balanced backdrop of an impersonal city block is most readily evident in the lack of eye pupils and the incorrectly formed shadow of the female figure. Devoid of any specific narrative, the painting as a whole projects the vast emptiness of modern urban existence. (courtesy of Delaware Art Museum)
Here is the finished painting along with two earlier studies