Organized by Heather James Fine Art Jackson Hole, Wyoming
A Reason to Paint By Carole Perry
Edward Hopper (1882-1967) once said, “If you could say it in words, there’d be no reason to paint.” As a man of few words, Hopper certainly had a reason to paint. He articulated his worldview though his signature themes, from isolated figures in public or private interiors to sun-soaked architecture and deserted streets to boats and coastal scenes. Born in the Hudson River village of Nyack, NY, about 21 miles north of New York City, Hopper’s artistic ambitions surfaced early on. With a clear view of the river from his bedroom window, inspiration was close at hand. At the time, the river at Nyack was a thriving hub of transit and industry. The local shipbuilding companies in particular captivated the young artist-inthe-making and he would spend his days at the docks, sketchbook in hand, observing the activities and drawing. These early years are documented in dozens drawings of boats and ships as well as several wooden model boats. He recorded many other childhood interests as well, including trains, horses, soldiers, naval battles and characters from his books. Hopper’s interest in cultural activities also fueled his artistic development. His
parents were comfortably middle class and they exposed him and his older sister Marion to theatre, concerts, and literature in addition to fine arts. His mother, also imbued with artistic talent, encouraged her son’s creativity and kept him supplied with art materials and training manuals. After high school, he commuted by train to the New York School of Illustrating in Manhattan, but soon transferred to the New York School of Art. There he studied with the venerable William Merritt Chase and with Robert Henri, who encouraged his students to depict the more common, everyday side of daily life in their work. Following art school, artistic success was slow in coming and Hopper reluctantly worked as an illustrator for nearly 20 years until his painting career finally took off. During that time he travelled to Paris and other European cities, sold his first painting (Sailing at the seminal 1913 Armory show), and, in 1915, took up printmaking, producing some 70 etchings and dry points over the next decade. A turning point in his career came in 1923 when, at 41 years old, he reconnected with fellow artist Josephine (Jo) Nivison Hopper, whom he had met years earlier as an art student of Robert Henri. Jo suggested he participate with her in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Hopper exhibited six watercolors in the show, including The Mansard Roof (1923), which the museum purchased for $100. They married the following year, and from then on Jo was his
primary model and most ardent supporter. That same year he had an exhibition of watercolors at the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery, which sold out. Recognition and sales continued and he was soon able to give up illustrating for good. The Hopper marriage was one of contradictions. She was outgoing and vivacious, he introverted and reticent. Despite their deep connection and 43 years together, strife and resentment were hallmarks of their union. The jealousy he felt for her cat, Arthur, inspired a caricature titled “Status Quo,” which depicts Arthur dining at the table with Jo, while an emaciated Ed grovels at their feet. Hopper regularly expressed his frustration with his wife by creating these caricatures and leaving them around their apartment for her to find. Of course, he never meant for these drawings to be shown to the public, but they provide important insight into the dynamics of their marriage and by extension, his depiction of women and relationships in his paintings. In the latter part of his career (except when travelling), Hopper only painted in his studio, rather than outdoors from nature, as he had done with the watercolors and some early oils. In the studio, he would work out his compositions through numerous study sketches, improvising with each incarnation, so that the original subject had evolved in step with this imagination. His lifelong quest to create great art hinged on being able to put more of himself—what he called his “inner life” --on the canvas and in this way, he felt
he was able to adequately express himself. For Hopper, as he put it, “Originality is neither a matter of inventiveness nor method…It is far deeper than that, and is the essence of a personality.” 1 Edward Hopper, “The Silent Witness,” Time (December 23, 1956): 38. 2 Edward Hopper, “Statement,” Reality: A Journal of Artists’ Opinions (Spring 1953): 8. 3 Seldon Rodman, Conversations with Artists (New York: Capricorn Books, 1961), 200. Bibliography Foster, Carter E., Hopper Drawing. New York: Whitney Museum of Art, 2013. Edward Hopper, “The Silent Witness,” Time (December 23, 1956): 38. Edward Hopper, “Statement,” Reality: A Journal of Artists’ Opinions (Spring 1953): 8. Katharine Kuh, The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seventeen Modern Artists. New York: De Capo Press, 2000. Levin, Gail, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography. New York: Rizzoli, 2007. Rodman, Selden, Conversations with Artists. New York: Capricorn Books, 1961.
Old Ice Pond at Nyack c. 1897â€¨ oil on canvas 11 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.
Church and Landscape c. 1897â€¨ oil on canvas 10 x 14 in.
Queensborough Bridge c. 1913â€¨ charcoal and pastel on paper 8 5/8 x 11 5/8 in.
Harborview - Riverboats of Nyack 1900 ink and pencil on paper 11 1/2 x 14 1/4 in.
Attic in Nyack (Hopper House) 1899â€¨ charcoal on paper 13 1/2 x 19 3/4 in.
Study for Oregon Coast 1941 charcoal on paper 8 3/8 x 10 7/8 in.
Study for Hotel by a Railroad 1952â€¨ graphite on paper 11 x 8 1/2 in.
Study for Slopes of Grand Tetons 1945 charcoal on paper 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.
Manâ€™s Head 1901â€¨ graphite, ink, and charcoal on paper 5 5/8 x 4 3/4 in.
Portrait of Marion Hopper 1908 pencil on paper 7 3/8 x 5 3/8 in.
A Mlle. Jo Noel 1923 gouache on paper 7 x 8 5/8 in.
Jo Sleeping 1948 charcoal on paper 6 5/8 x 8 1/4 in.
Back of Hopper House c. 1894â€¨ pencil on paper 6 5/8 x 8 1/4 in.
Sir Edwin Landseer 1901 ink on paperboard 5 7/8 x 7 1/8 in.
Lighthouse at Two Lightsâ€¨ paper on paper 5 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.
Church, Bridge, Countryside 1901 inkwash and whiting on mat board 4 1/4 x 6 in.
Manâ€™s Head 1902 charcoal on paper 4 x 3 /8 in.
Painting the South Truro Church in the Wind 1933 pencil on paper 8 1/2 x 11in.
Horse and Rider 1896â€¨ pencil on paper 4 3/4 x 5 3/4 in.
Five Sketches (on back of Church Fair Tickets) pencil on tickets 3 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. each
Status Quo 1932â€¨ graphite on paper 8 1/2 x 11 in.
“Non-Anger man” “Pro-Anger woman” c. 1925-1935 charcoal and graphite on paper 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.
House and Lane 1898â€¨ ink and watercolor on paper 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.
Mexicans (Man on Burro and Head in Profile) 1925 graphite on paper 8 1/2 x 5 in.
Mother’s Day 1931 1931 graphite on paper 4 5/8 x 7 1/8 in.
Freud, Jung c. 1925-1935 graphite on paper 4 1/8 x 3 1/8 in.
South Truro Church paper on paper 5 3/8 x 7 1/4 in.
South Truro Church paper on paper 5 3/8 x 7 3/8 in.
Water Tower and Coal Shute 1920â€¨ ink on cardboard 2 3/4 x 3 5/8 in.
Study of Arms 1900 chalk on paper 6 1/2 x 9 3/4 in.
The Wedding Guest c. 1925-1935 graphite on paper 7 x 8 1/2 in.
Donâ€™t Miss Anything Darling c. 1925-1935 graphite on paper 11 x 8 1/2 in.
Studio Readjusted c. 1925-1935â€¨ graphite on paper 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 in.
Jo Standing on Edâ€™s Head graphite on paper 4 7/8 x 8 1/4 in.
“Neck” Act I Act II c. 1896 graphite on paper 9 x 5 3/8 in.
Sketch of EH’s Father’s Face c. 1925-1935 graphite on paper 8 3/8 x 5 5/8 in.
Greetings - Hoppers (Eagle) 1925â€¨ blockprint on paper 9 1/8 x 5 1/4 in.
To Mother from Ed watercolor and ink on paper 3 x 2 1/8 in.
Maison E. Hopper c. 1913-1919 ink on paper 5 x 7 1/4 in.
Santa Fe Letter to Mother 1925 (Riding Horseback) July 27, 1925 ink on paper 8 7/8 x 5 1/2 in.
The Ancient Mariner - Beyond the shadows of the ship I watched the water-snakes c. 1897-1900 pencil on paper 9 3/4 x 7 1/2 in.
A Typical Racer - A Pacer c. 1897-1900 pencil on paper 10 x 8 in.
Edward Hopper exhibition catalog