Edward Hopper exhibition in Italy – Palazzo Reale in Milan

Palazzo Reale, Milan

Edward Hopper
October 14, 2009 > January 24, 2010

For the first time Milan and Rome are set to pay tribute to the entire career of Edward Hopper (1882-1967), the 20th century’s most popular and best known American artist. This major anthological exhibition – the first of its kind in Italy – presents more than 160 works.

The event is promoted by Comune di Milano – Cultura and the Fondazione Roma, which can be credited with the original idea for the project – together for the first time in a cultural partnership with Arthemisia, the Whitney Museum of American Art and Fondation de l’Hermitage in Lausanne.

Edward Hopper

Self-Portrait (Autoritratto), 1903-1906
Olio su tela, 65,88 x 55,88 cm
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;
lascito di Josephine Nivison Hopper 70.1253
© Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Fotografia di Sheldan C. Collins

Structured in seven sections according to chronological order and theme, the Italian exhibition covers Hopper’s entire oeuvre, from his education, to his years as a student in Paris, up to his “classic” and best-known period of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, closing with the large, intense images of his later years. The show explores all of the artist’s favourite techniques: oil, watercolour and etching, and devotes special attention to the fascinating relationship between his preparatory drawings and his paintings: a vital aspect of his work that up till now has not been greatly explored in the exhibitions dedicated to him.

The first three sections: “Self Portraits”, “Education and Early Works. Hopper the Illustrator” and “Hopper in Paris”, present a group of promising self portraits, the works from his academic period and the light-filled sketches and works of his Paris period, such as the well-known painting Soir Bleu (1914). The room dedicated to “Defining the Image: Hopper the Etcher”, with masterpieces such as Night Shadows (1921) and Evening Wind (1921), highlights his elegant technique and that “sense of the incredible potential of everyday life” that brought him great success and marked the start of a distinguished career.

The section entitled “Hopper’s Method: from Sketch to Canvas”, which celebrates the artist’s extraordinary talent for drawing, and explores his modus operandi, presents a significant set of preparatory drawings for paintings such as Morning Sun (1952) and the earlier work New York Movie (1939), the sketches for which clearly reveal how his female figure takes shape: starting out almost as a portrait of his wife Jo (his only model), the figure gradually evolves into the pensive usherette with film star looks standing in the movie theatre – one of the artist’s favourite subjects. This section shows how Hopper’s realism is often the result of an amalgamation of several images and situations captured at different times and places, not a simple reproduction from life. The exhibition also exceptionally includes one of his Record books, the famous ledgers he and his wife compiled, and which contain sketches of many of his oil paintings.

Edward Hopper

Morning Sun (Sole del mattino), 1952
Olio su tela, 71,44×101,93 cm
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio;
acquisizione dal Howald Fund, 1954.031

Edward Hopper

Girlie Show, (Lo spogliarello), 1941
Olio su tela, 81,28 x 96,52 cm
Collezione Fayez Sarofim

In the rooms dedicated to “Hopper’s Eroticism” the exhibition gathers some of his most significant images of women absorbed in contemplation, for the most part nude or partially undressed, alone in interiors. Together with the works in the section “Artist’s Essence: Time, Space, Memory” these works are a consummate representation of the artist’s aesthetic, his understated form of realism and above all his ability to reveal beauty in the most common subjects, often with a cinematographic slant that was much appreciated by the critics.

Hopper has long been associated with atmospheric images of urban buildings and the people who inhabit them, but rather than skyscrapers – emblems of the aspirations of the jazz age – he preferred the dilapidated red facades of anonymous shops, and lesser-known bridges. Some of his favourite subjects are images of life in tranquil middle class apartments, often glimpsed through a window from a passing train, and settings like diners and movie theatres; images that have acquired iconic status, as in some of the famous masterpieces presented here: Cape Cod Sunset (1934), Second Story Sun¬light (1960) and A Woman in the Sun (1961). Hopper also painted some stunning watercolours during summers spent in Gloucester (Massachusetts), in Maine, and in Truro (Cape Cod) as of 1930. The sea rarely features in these paintings, which show sun-baked sand dunes, lighthouses and humble cottages, enlivened by sensuous contrasts of light and shade; paintings which always hint at a story yet leave the motivations of the protagonists unclear.

Edward Hopper

Dawn in Pennsylvania,
(Alba in Pennsylvania), 1942
Olio su tela, 61,9 x 112,4 cm
Terra Foundation for American Art,
collezione Danel J. Terra, Chicago, Illinois, 1999.7
Fotografia: Courtesy of Terra Foundation for American Art

Edward Hopper

Stairway at 48 rue de Lille, Paris
(Scale del 48 di Rue de Lille, Parigi), 1906
Olio su legno, 33,02 x 23,5 cm
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;
lascito di Josephine Nivison Hopper, 70.1295
© Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper, licensed by the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Fotografia di Jerry L. Thompson

The exhibition also features an important photographic, biographical and historical component, tracing American history from the 1920s to the 1960s: the Depression, the Kennedys, the boom years. An opportunity for greater insight into today’s global recession and Barack Obama’s America.

The catalogue, published by Skira, contains essays by: Carter Foster, Carol Troyen, Sasha Nicholas, Goffredo Fofi, Demetrio Paparoni and Luigi Sampietro.

Courtesy Arthemisia
Images © Their respective owners. All rights reserved


Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

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~ by Stampfli & Turci on September 14, 2009.

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