Noted American realist painter Edward Hopper was born in New York and descended from Dutch heritage which dovetails nicely with my appreciation for the Dutch masters. He lived from 1882 -1967 and like most artists endured many difficult years before he discovered his personal style.
The style of American realism is unique in that it focused on the everyday life of average people at the turn of the 20th century. It's influence reached far beyond painting into the worlds of literature and music. Eight painters in New York inspired each other and became known as the Ashcan School although it was never a formalized process. George Bellows, Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, George Benjamin Luks, William Glackens, John Sloan sought to depict in their work modern and city life that they felt had been ignored.
Robert Henri (Hopper's teacher) said,
"wanted art to be akin to journalism...he wanted paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horse-shit and snow, that froze on Broadway in the winter."
He advised his students,
"It isn't the subject that counts but what you feel about it and Forget about art and paint pictures of what interests you in life."
Within literature writers such as Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Edith Wharton and more were moving away from flowery prose and in the direction of colloquial speech, the common man, humble backgrounds showing life in its raw beauty.
They did this to shine a mirror on what they saw as truth and a way of breaking free from the conventions of the past.
During this time, ragtime and blues music became popular with Scott Joplin leaving his mark on former. James Allen Bland emerged as the first songwriter of African American descent to be well-known along with C.A. White. Considered the "Father of Blues," W.C. Handy transformed the regional style into its contemporary form.
One of the things I admire about Hopper's work is his belief that art can be an outward expression of the inner life of the artist. As a bit of a solitary individual, most of his painting featured solo figures within their environment but could also include larger groupings.
Two of his painting that inspired me are his Room in New York, 1932 that shows a man reading a newspaper while the woman is sitting at the piano. They seem engrossed in their own worlds and detached from each other.
Another one that symbolizes this idea of a distance between two people is Cape Cod Evening, 1939. In a man sits on his stoop of their porch looking down while the woman contemplates her fate and the dog plays in a grassy field. There is a lack of emotional connection between the two and it speaks to the idea of all of us becoming self-absorbed in today's society.
This concept is not a literal interpretation of one of Hopper's existing works but a combination of the tones, storylines, and relationships he depicted. I was inspired by his use of simplistic color schemes and props to tell the story. He used warm colors in his famous Diner painting and I wanted to bring your eye in using the warmth of the yellow bringing your eye into the red.
A woman sits on the bed smoking a cigarette, in detached frustration, while her man is more enamored with the photo on the mirror.
The man is in love with Rita Hayworth, a popular actress during that time period,
On the mirror written in red lipstick are the words, "I'm waiting."
The message is simply, "Do not become enamored by artificial substitutes for the real thing."
Woman: Emily Bell
Makeup: Mayra Rams-Sanabria
Hair: Sonia Trevino
Location: InterContinental Dallas.1/15; f/13.0; ISO 500; 35.0 mm.
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