Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hopper Drawings at the Whitney

Monhegan Lighthouse, 7am, Palette Study I
6" x 6", watercolor, $35
This will be in my Etsy shop soon - please contact me if interested

Monhegan Lighthouse, 7am, Palette Study II
6" x 6", watercolor, $35

Last Friday evening, I went to the Hopper Drawings show at the Whitney. As is traditional I go to a show as close to the end as I can - no reason - pure procrastination.

There were relatively few finished paintings. The majority of pieces were sketches and notes pertaining to the paintings as well as sketches for some paintings not represented and sketches from when he was a student.
Soire Bleu, 1914
Great character studies of Parisians from the early 1900s.

A few of the iconic Hoppers were there: Early Sunday Morning, The Nighthawks, Gas -

and some that I wasn't familiar with: New York Movie,

my new favorite - Rooms for Tourists

There were a couple of paintings from Cape Cod (one a watercolor in a very limited palette that I've seen before), 
(Route 66 Eastham)

(High Road)

a few from the office series, some wonderful paintings of the tops of NYC buildings as he looked out his studio window,

nudes (not my favorites - though his model drawings are really wonderful),
(I love the notes. Study for Morning Sun)

I enjoyed seeing the process of Hopper's problem solving. The little sketches of salt shakers and fire hydrants, the way he worked out the composition in a theater or office, or the details of a shoe or gesture. The notes made on the drawing indicating the darkness of a shadow or the color of a roof.

(He went to several NY City theaters to sketch. There were many drawings of balconies and hallways,  and details of decor, as he searched for the perfect composition.)

(Details such as the uniform, right down to the shoes, are examined in a series of sketches.)

(His model was always his wife, Jo. She has the slightest smile here.)

(More note taking.)

(The docent told about the man who researched the background of this particular painting. 
He went to the hotel on Cape Cod and interviewed people. A few said that they were a little unnerved by a balding fellow sitting in his car across the street for long periods of time, day and night. 
That would be Hopper himself, studying and sketching.)

The above small watercolors are my (small) homage to Hopper - the first, a limited palette watercolor (cerulean, Prussian blue, alizarine crimson, quin gold and burnt sienna) and the second, an even more limited palate of alizarine, ultramarine and cadmium yellow.

What do you think of Hopper's paintings? Do you think that seeing the process helps to understand the painting and/or the artist's point of view?  Please let me know in the comments.