Hopper was initially trained as an illustrator, but, between 1901 and 1906, he studied painting under Robert ls Henri, a member of a group of painters called the Ashcan School. Hopper travelled to Europe three times between 1906 and 1910, but he remained untouched by the experimental work then blossoming in France and continued throughout his career to follow his own artistic course. Although he exhibited paintings in the Armory Show of 1913, he devoted most of his time to advertising art and illustrative etchings until 1924. He then began to do such watercolours as "Model Reading" (1925; Art Institute of Chicago), as well as oil paintings. Like the painters of the Ashcan School, Hopper painted the commonplaces of urban life. But, unlike their loosely organized, vivacious paintings, his "House by the Railroad" (1925; Museum of Modern Art, New York City) and "Room in Brooklyn" (1932; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) show still, anonymous figures and stern geometric forms within snapshot-like compositions that create an inescapable sense of loneliness. This isolation of his subjects was heightened by Hopper's characteristic use of light to insulate persons and objects in space, whether in the harsh morning light (" Early Sunday Morning," 1930; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City) or the eerie light of an all-night coffee stand ("Nighthawks," 1942; Art Institute of Chicago).
Hopper's mature style was already formed by the mid-1920s. His subsequent development showed a constant refinement of his vision. Such late paintings as "Second-Story Sunlight" (1960; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City) are distinguished by extremely subtle spatial relationships and an even greater mastery of light than is seen in his work of the 1920s.
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Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:26:22 EDT