"Man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing."
No artist more perfectly represents the harsh, barren realities of Depression America than does the work of Edward Hopper. Born in 1882 and working well into the 1960's he painted this country's darkest and brightest periods with the same colours of cold, lonely, isolation. Exhibiting the influence of Robert Henri and John Sloan, Hopper was also the product of commercial art, signs, and the advertising imagery he had to rely upon for survival in many of the bleakest years of our collective economic and social depression. His cityscapes feature strong, baking sunlight, painted from a low vantage point with stark whites and cold, blue shadows, often devoid of human habitation, underlining the haunting loneliness that pervades his artistic existence.
Even when he escaped the city and painted the New England coast, Hopper's monumental landscapes are quite empty of detail and warmth despite his obvious use of warm colours. Like the regionalism of other artists of the time like Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Stuart Curry, Hopper's work reflects his deep, preoccupied personality and the overwhelming emptiness he saw in the American urban scene. In 1932, Hopper achieved a degree of recognition from the art establishment when he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design. Characteristically, he declined the honour. His work had been rejected by the organisation too many times.
contributed by Lane, Jim
16 November 1997