Field Trip Friday: Edward Hopper at the Whitney Museum

Last Saturday, OHNY staffer Hae-In went to the Whitney Museum of American Art to see the Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time exhibit. Her interest in Hopper’s work began in high school, when she used to go to figure drawing classes at the Hopper House Art Center in nearby Nyack, New York, where he grew up.

Whitney Museum lobby

Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time highlights the work of Edward Hopper but also traces the development of realism in American art between 1900 and 1940, showing the  diverse ways that artists depicted the changes in urban and rural life that occurred during this time.

Whitney lobby

Most of the works featured are drawn from the Whitney Museum’s collection and includes 80 works in a range of media by Hopper as well as artists John Sloan, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Charles Demuth, Guy Pène du Bois and Charles Sheeler.

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, Seven A. M., 1948. Oil on canvas, 30 3/16 × 40 1/8 in. (76.68 x 101.92 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase and exchange 50.8. © Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Steven Sloman

Modern Life places Hopper’s work in the context of his contemporaries, as well as the time period. When he first arrived in New York at the turn of the 20th century, Hopper studied with Robert Henri and the Ashcan School painters, a realist artistic movement best known for works portraying scenes of daily urban life in New York’s poorer neighborhoods. In the 1920’s he became more interested in the industrial environment, like Precisionists such as Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler, who focused on abstracting architectural geometries.

Charles Demuth 1883-1935, My Egypt, 1927. Oil and graphite pencil on fiberboard, 35 3/4 × 30 in. (90.81 x 76.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney 31.172.

However, unlike many of his contemporaries who experimented with abstract cubism, Hopper was attracted to realist art and wanted to focus on “the inner life of a human being” versus “stimulating arrangements of color, form and design.” Many of Hopper’s works incorporate isolation, disconnect and melancholy and this element clearly distinguished his work among the others throughout the show.

Edward Hopper 1882-1967, New York Interior, ca. 1921. Oil on canvas, Overall: 24 1/4 × 29 1/4in. (61.6 × 74.3cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Josephine N. Hopper Bequest 70.1200. ©Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Robert E. Mates

The show is accompanied by a 250-page illustrated catalogue with essays by American and German scholars, produced in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title which appeared at the Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, and the Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2009-10. The Whitney’s website features an image gallery. The exhibition will close on April 10, 2011.

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

Images courtesy of The Whitney


1 Response to “Field Trip Friday: Edward Hopper at the Whitney Museum”

  1. 1 Andy Bowes 6 February 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Sadly I’m not in New York to see Hopper at the Whitney, but thanks for sharing. I’d love to see more on Hopper’s New England paintings. In fact I prefer these. Looking at Hopper’s NY paintings it’s like playing ‘guess the speech bubble’. Another Hopper blog mentions the idea in Hopper sailing paintings of a lurking danger depite the calm sea and Summer air. I’d really like to see an collection that explored that further.
    Thanks again

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: