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Born Today-Edward Hopper

July 22, 2009

Hopper-Night Shadows


Hopper was born on July 22, 1882, in Nyack, New York, and studied illustration in New York City at a commercial art school from 1899 to 1900. Around 1901 he switched to painting and studied at the New York School of Art until 1906, largely under Robert Henri. He made three trips to Europe between 1906 and 1910 but remained unaffected by current French and Spanish experiments in cubism.

He was influenced mainly by the great European realists—Diego Velazquez, Francisco de Goya, Honore Daumier, Edouard Manet—whose work had first been introduced to him by his New York City teachers. His early paintings, such as Le pavillon de flore, were committed to realism and exhibited some of the basic characteristics that he was to retain throughout his career: compositional style based on simple, large geometric forms; flat masses of color; and the use of architectural elements in his scenes for their strong verticals, horizontals, and diagonals.

Although one of Hopper’s paintings was exhibited in the famous Armory Show of 1913 in New York City, his work excited little interest, and he was obliged to work principally as a commercial illustrator for the next decade. In 1925 he painted House by the Railroad, a landmark in American art that marked the advent of his mature style. The emphasis on blunt shapes and angles and the stark play of light and shadow were in keeping with his earlier work, but the mood—which was the real subject of the painting—was new: It conveyed an atmosphere of all-embracing loneliness and almost eerie solitude. Hopper continued to work in this style for the rest of his life, refining and purifying it but never abandoning its basic principles.

Most of his paintings portray scenes in New York or New England, both country and city scenes, all with a spare, homely quality—deserted streets, half-empty theaters, gas stations, railroad tracks, rooming houses. One of his best-known works, Nighthawks, shows an all-night café, its few uncommunicative customers illuminated in the pitiless glare of electric lights.

Although Hopper’s work was outside the mainstream of mid-20th-century abstraction, his simplified schematic style was one of the influences on the later representational revival and on pop art. He died May 15, 1967, in New York City.

(Got tired of looking at Proust and his wilting moustache and spaniel eyes–Ed.)

  1. parallax permalink
    July 22, 2009 12:37 PM

    Nighthawks is perhaps the iconic Hopper image. I like it because it represents the cusp of his work – intimate interiors and desolate landscapes. I reckon nighthawks combines the the two. The viewer is already outside (outcast), the interior is inviting but it’s a false warth – everyone in the bar is alone but together.

  2. parallax permalink
    July 22, 2009 12:39 PM

    can’t decide if ‘warth’ was meant to be warmth or worth. Either way, Hopper cuspiness prevails.

  3. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2009 1:24 PM

    I did consider using Nighthawks but it’s so well known…I thought I’d use something a little more obscure but nonetheless emblematic of Hopper’s studies in isolation and anomie…

  4. parallax permalink
    July 22, 2009 1:55 PM

    yeh but, I reckon the imagine you’ve chosen does the same thing – from a helicopter viewpoint – you see (that is, the viewer sees) from a lone, removed standpoint another lonely figure – very DeLillo. So did Hopper top himself? Don’t answer, no worries, I’ll check and be back

  5. parallax permalink
    July 22, 2009 1:57 PM

    oh – prostate cancer. ooof.

  6. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2009 1:58 PM

    I dunno…he was pretty old (95) when he died, not that that means he didn’t. Here’s one for you, para:

  7. parallax permalink
    July 22, 2009 2:24 PM

    Richard Thompson – fantastic. I know Baronexit is concerned with plagiarism of video-clips, but (knowing he was/is an actor, right?) that’s the same as an actor taking another’s words and making it (via the director) their own, isn’t it? – sort of.

    Anyway Mish, I can see a progression – or an obsession – developing in the Mishari auteur utube field of study: body parts: unconnected, reconstructed, rebuilt, human robotics … oh yes, and a lot of opening and closing of doors. Continue: I’m working on my Mishari deconstruction thesis.

    Hey, when you can do something with Nick Cave’s music – thanks

  8. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2009 2:39 PM

    I’ll start browsing Cave songs (maybe something from Murder Ballads?) and get right (sort of) on it…

    You know what they say…immature artists plagiarize, mature artists steal. By that yardstick, I’m a very mature artist indeed…

  9. July 22, 2009 6:07 PM

    Red Right Hand would work with your body parts / human robotics obsession.

    A friend of mine, I remember, start setting his home videos to music via some application on his iMac, and remarked how often the music seemed to fit in with the action without him really having to think about it.

  10. mishari permalink*
    July 22, 2009 9:26 PM

    Your friend is absolutely spot on, obooki. I’ve noticed the same thing. I found it a bit uncanny at first but after consideration, I think there must be something else at work… subconscious elements, I suspect. If not, the implications are a bit scary…

  11. July 23, 2009 8:29 AM

    Hello Mish,

    It seems you are enjoying your holiday, cool toys. Are the trout jumping for you? Did
    survive being in a box in the stratosphere? (I worry for him.)

    Interesting we both seem to have thought
    Hopper’s Man Walking
    was little-known. Since posting it I’ve now seen it up in several other places. It seems that everything little-known is really well-known.

    Learned from that to stick with the
    Better Known Hoppers
    thereafter… because, in fact, no one ever uses them.

    Went through maybe 25 years of imitating Hopper. Found his technique really proves itself very basic, one might even say simple. It’s the remote occluded spirit that is inimitable. Imitating him, one runs into a wall of Bleak.

    Ah but that was long ago, now seems old, just as, I suppose, in twenty five years your present video toys may well seem old. (Or perhaps twenty-five minutes?)

    After our recent exchange–and I’m sorry you’ve dumped Marcel, I thought we were onto something there–I reflected some more upon old photos, this time not a personal memory cargo but as cultural memory cargo. Should that theme still interest you, float back for a moment to

    East Texas, 1943

    At present I am working with a blogger from a country where you dare not tell your name or download an image (from our sort, anyway).

    I Want to Say

    (O and by the way hello Parallax, missed you, come over some time–I’ve given up platypus feet forever on your account.)

  12. July 23, 2009 3:55 PM

    Hey Meltonian, if you’re about these parts, at the mo – I know you were only fucking joking on the Poster poems…

    I’ve just got involved in infighting before by standing around not doing anything and wanted to make my position clear. You made me laugh, but also I was rather flattered by Offie’s response!

  13. July 24, 2009 9:22 AM

    Non sequitur time. For anyone following the H.L. Gates racial profiling snafu, comparing these two blog reactions/comment threads (one essentially white male, the other essentially white female) might be interesting.

    I’m called a “troll” for arguing against docility in the face of police abuse here:

    Contrast with:

  14. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2009 10:21 AM

    I must say, I was a bit surprised at this. I know Cambridge well and the cops there used to be very civilised (as US cops go).

    I saw the cop involved explaining himself on the news last night. Unintentionally hilarious. “He mentioned my mother…”, said the cop.

    Yeah? You were in the man’s fucking house, gun drawn, giving him grief, you dumb son-of-a-bitch. I daresay I would have mentioned your fucking mother as well.

    But never mind. Obama got elected and everybody mourned Jacko, so racial harmony and egality reign supreme in America. You really must do something about your paranoid delusions, Steven.

  15. July 24, 2009 10:38 AM


    I’ve decided to start taking my pills again, if that helps…

  16. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2009 11:36 AM

    It might also help if you have a word with Al Sharpton. He’ll explain to you why a black man using surgical and chemical means to become white is evidence of progress. That should set your mind at ease. Lay off the pills. They turn your urine a funny colour.

  17. July 24, 2009 12:10 PM

    Not unless paisley is funny.

  18. Meltonian permalink
    July 24, 2009 1:51 PM

    Officer Crowley could be the victim of Irish stereotyping. Large potato-headed chaps who appear on your doorstep might not be about to beat you to a pulp. Perhaps they are going to invite you to the ceilidh, or offer to tarmac your drive.

  19. mishari permalink*
    July 24, 2009 2:19 PM

    What, at gunpoint? Is that what they call ‘an offer you can’t refuse’? Talk about a hard-sell…

  20. Meltonian permalink
    July 24, 2009 2:31 PM

    You would need a gun to get me to a ceilidh.

  21. parallax permalink
    July 24, 2009 4:03 PM

    “céilidh is a literary entertainment where stories and tales, poems and ballads, are rehearsed and recited, and songs are sung, conundrums are put, proverbs are quoted, and many other literary matters are related and discussed”

    oh right, now I follow – a bit like trivia night down the RSL on a Wednesday night

  22. parallax permalink
    July 24, 2009 4:37 PM

    ooooooooh late response but now I get it, sheelaylee – I’m not being dense for the sake of it (the irish diaspora over here *and there were many given the Young Ireland Movement* brought across their literacy heritage as part of the baggage but not always the old spelling) – it’s one of them siobhan for shuvaughn freakin gaelic words innit?

  23. parallax permalink
    July 24, 2009 4:58 PM

    hang on “with a sheelaylee under me arm…” – oI give in. That’s a stick to bash peole with isn’t it?

    *distant under water voice* I’ve no idea what they’re on about…

  24. Meltonian permalink
    July 25, 2009 12:48 AM

    Pronounced ‘kaylee’, I think, para. I thought it was like a Celtic disco.

    I was driving past Dorchester a couple of days ago and noticed the roofs of Poundbury (Prince Chas’ new town), so I went to have a quick look. It’s a very odd place, buildings from different periods of history all jumbled together like they’ve been dropped from the sky. I suppose it’s an attempt to make it look natural, but they are all brand new so it looks completely unnatural. The place is also totally deserted, not a single person walking the pavements. It reminded me of a set from one of those Avengers episodes in the 60s: Steed and Mrs Peel could have been round the corner beating someone up.

  25. parallax permalink
    July 25, 2009 5:48 AM

    ah, thanks Melton – Céilidh Minogue

  26. mishari permalink*
    July 25, 2009 8:51 AM

    para, you may remember an old Eastwood war movie-Céilidh’s Heroes. Clint, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland steal a hoard of Nazi gold.

    Then there was the Depression-era US gangster, Machine Gun Céilidh, the great dancer Gene Céilidh and the actress who married Prince Rainier, Grace Céilidh.

    This appeared in an article about the suffering of expat Brits in Spain since the advent of the credit crunch, devaluation of the pound, etc etc…

    Seventy percent of the corpses donated for science to Alicante’s Miguel Hernández University belong to Britons – in some cases simply to avoid the expense of a funeral. “Some of those who have approached me don’t have much money,” admits Lionel Sharpe, who helps the university recruit future corpses.

    –The Grauniad, July 24, 2009

    Future corpses? As opposed to the rest of us, who will avoid such an ignominious fate by having arranged our affairs far more prudently.

  27. Meltonian permalink
    July 25, 2009 11:12 AM

    Yes, I’ve flogged my left leg, right eye and optioned my heart already.

  28. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    July 26, 2009 10:41 AM

  29. parallax permalink
    July 26, 2009 11:43 AM

    oh yes HLM, Bring it On

  30. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2009 12:02 PM

    Here’s another one for your thesis on my obsession with disjointed body parts, para:

  31. parallax permalink
    July 26, 2009 1:10 PM

    Thanks Mish. Talking of disjointed body parts – I’m pissed off about the mess the you-said-I-said are leaving on Michele’s latest post.

  32. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2009 1:20 PM

    I haven’t looked nor am I going to. Of course, there’s no need to ask who the instigator of any nastiness is? Poison is as poison does. QED…

  33. Meltonian permalink
    July 26, 2009 10:18 PM

    Rory Gallagher? Gotta be Same Old Story, surely?

  34. mishari permalink*
    July 26, 2009 11:05 PM

    Actually, MM, there’s a lot of his work that’s well worth posting. It’s just that the LP On The Boards was my introduction to Gallagher, hence my first choice…but, yeah…Same Old Story, What’s Going On, Railway And Gun…loads of stuff to consider.

    BTW, I posted this the other day. I seem to remember we once discussed this LP:

  35. Meltonian permalink
    July 27, 2009 10:56 AM

    I had already seen it on PH Music Channel. I wonder why it’s getting so many views?

  36. mishari permalink*
    July 27, 2009 12:53 PM

    Good question. I do know it’s the only posting of that particular Nice track. The Taste vid’s had a surprising number of hits, too…

  37. July 27, 2009 11:20 PM

    Oh, i’m bored of poem of the week now. Surely Lear is serious verse, unlike the stuff they usually have. i feel misunderstood.

  38. Meltonian permalink
    July 27, 2009 11:57 PM

    I never understand you.

  39. Meltonian permalink
    July 28, 2009 12:23 AM

    What happened to PHMC?

  40. mishari permalink*
    July 28, 2009 12:37 AM

    The bastards suspended the account. Copyright issues. Youtube is in dispute with a few of the biggest music companies. If a song you post matches one on their database, they’ll post the vid but with audio disabled. You then have three choices:

    A.) Leave the silent vid, defeating the whole purpose of the excercise

    B.) Deleting the offending vid; again, defeating etc etc

    C.) Disputing the claim

    That’s what I did. About a dozen of my posts were disputed. It meant filling in a form, giving the reason for disputing the copyright infringement claim. I quoted the ‘Fair Usage’ section of the (US)1978 Copyright Act. I guess they thought I was taking the piss (which I was, a bit).

    Oh, well. I was really just learning to use the video editing software and testing the limits of what I could get away with.

    Now I know. I’ve already registered another channel and I’ll populate it when I have the time but I won’t be online much until Sept. The wife and kids insist I take the holidays seriously (so to speak).

  41. Meltonian permalink
    July 28, 2009 12:52 AM

    I’ve got to go and get rained on for two weeks in Northumberland tomorrow. I voted for Sicily but was overruled on the grounds of excessive heat. I hope freep’s dogg isn’t gambolling about up there as I am liable to be in an animal-kicking mood.

  42. mishari permalink*
    July 28, 2009 12:55 AM

    Surely you could simulate a holiday in Northumberland by standing in a hole full of ice-cubes at the bottom of your garden and having someone turn the hose on you every 30 minutes?

    But as he (David Shayler) came to the door of the salubrious squat close to Guildford dressed as Delores in a blonde wig, sheer black tights, a leopard skin skirt and a cropped top with prosthetic breasts, before explaining that the world as it is known will end of 23 December 2012, it is perhaps clear why some of his former friends are concerned that he has suffered some form of mental collapse.–The Independent, today

    Sounds like an excerpt from the Life of Mowbray.

  43. July 28, 2009 10:11 AM

    Don’t expect any Christmas cards from MM in 2012 then…

    Obooki, I couldn’t figure out why people were down on Lear either, but then I don’t think many commenters on that book blog are there to understand each other or prepared to shift their perspective, so I think I’ll keep out of it…

    I got a chance to speak to Carol Anne Duffy after her gig at Hebden Bridge where I told her I found I used too many words and needed to learn how to more judicious and she suggested I read Ted Hughes poems for children amongst others. The best test as to whether the right meaning is being coveyed is whether a poem works for a child, adults are too polite and patient.

  44. freep permalink
    July 28, 2009 1:07 PM

    MM, Northumberland is ready with a black carpet for your arrival, and my dogg’s teeth are filed and polished. The place is already full (into double figures) of tourists (mostly from Holland and Bacup) and the size of the ice cream cornets has been reduced because of the recession. You will be most welcome here. Few are the visitors from the IoW, and the Infirmary at Alnwick has been alerted to the likelihood of frostbite cases; Mishari’s comparison is accurate.

  45. January 26, 2010 11:58 PM

    Hello – just a brief note to say thanks for this entry. Very informative.

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