It is great to visit NYC—you always get a fresh perspective of the city—its vibrance, architecture, and cross-cultural social landscape. And it is only so fitting that I happened to come to Whitney Museum for an exhibition of Edward Hopper—an artist whose whole life’s work is centered in New York City.
The exhibit weaves the narrative of Hopper’s life: from his beginnings as a commercial illustrator to his mature self as a celebrated NYC painter. The overall account is broken by smaller articles: “Sketching New York,” “Theater,” “The Window,” “The Horizontal City,” “The City in Print,” “Reality and Fantasy,” “Washington Square,” commercial work—magazine covers, small etchings, along with a very rare documentary film made about Edward Hopper and Josephine Nivison Hopper in 1965.
WHAT: Edward Hopper’s New York
WHEN: Oct 19, 2022—Mar, 5, 2023
WHERE: Whitney Museum of American Art, Floor 5. 99 Gansevoort Street, New York.
Walking through spacious but populous exhibition halls designed by Renzo Piano, one wonders—what makes Edward Hopper so relevant in 2022? How do his subjects and painting style connect with the NYC audience of today? How does this art reach many hearts of very different demographics and backgrounds?
Every work of art is a mystery, yet its overarching theme seems to be an expression of the human condition and its desire to stop the passage of time. The way Edward Hopper celebrates the eternal is what makes these images so personal and unique but also universal at the same time.
“Early Sunday Morning” from “The Horizontal City” series creates a poetic image of the buildings that signify a divide between the sky and earth, philosophical in its nature. The quiet confidence and stability expressed in the architecture speak to our feeling of impermanence. The same is true about small etchings like “Lonely House”—a “personal portrait” of the buildings, animated by Hopper’s ability to inject humanity into the inanimate.
The series of paintings titled “The Window” feel as though the artist is trying to stop the moment, making something ephemeral and immediate—very still. In the “Morning Sun” the “private” interior is juxtaposed with the “public” exterior—our inner personal world with the outside. A sense of loneliness and longing, expressed in these paintings and so familiar to every urban dweller, is existential.
Hopper’s reality is stark and “factual,” as it is imaginative—a rare combination in figurative art. I highly recommend this exhibit to everyone—New Yorkers and tourists alike.