Office at Night, 1940
Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Gift of the T.B. Walker Foundation, Gilbert M. Walker Fund, 1948
Between 1906 and 1910, Hopper made three trips to Europe, spending much of his time in Paris. While he apparently was not influenced by the radical artistic movements such as Cubism and Fauvism then emerging in the French capital, he did embrace Impressionist techniques. As Gail Levin observed in Hopper’s Places, “Not only did the pastel tonalities of Renoir, Sisley, and Monet motivate him to lighten his own palette, but under the influence of their work, he also painted with shorter, more broken brushstrokes.”1 Though the strokes were fluid, he placed them so precisely that the whole work becomes sharp and clear. Hopper was so committed to realism, to portraying life as he saw it in front of him that he said that his “aim in painting has always been the most exact transcription of my most intimate impressions of nature.”2
Edward Hopper was one of the America’s best and most important representational painters of the twentieth century. He was a modernist, a symbolist, a realist and a self-proclaimed Impressionist. He was, Philip Leider wrote, “one of the very few artists whose work cuts across all the lines of contention that characterized his times.”3 Hopper searched for the typical scene, not the flamboyant one, and found that he often had to choose from a number of experiences and reduce them to a common denominator on which to base his style. He paid special interest to architecture – buildings, cafés, shops, lighthouses, railroad stations – to means of transportation – trains, boats, automobiles – and to figures related to his surroundings. Hopper’s evocative images – like the works of Picasso, whom Hopper considered “unpredictable” – show us a new way of seeing the twentieth century.
1: Levin, Gail. Hopper’s Places. (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1998), p. 151.
2: Morgan, Ann Lee. The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists. (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 229.
3: Leider, Philip. “Vermeer and Hopper,” Art in America 89, no. 3 (2001): p.103.