Exhibition is First to Focus on the Drawings and Creative Process of the Iconic 20th Century Artist
MINNEAPOLIS, February 26, 2014—The Walker Art Center presents Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process, the first major exhibition to focus on the drawings and creative process of the iconic American artist Edward Hopper (1882–1967). While past exhibitions and publications have investigated Hopper’s work and artistic practice, this touring exhibition for the first time illuminates the centrality of drawing to Hopper’s work and allows a fresh look at many of his landmark paintings. Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the exhibition will open at the Walker on March 13, 2014 with a free Opening-Night Party, and will be on view through June 20, 2014 in the Target and Friedman Galleries.
Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process features more than two hundred works by the artist, including drawings, watercolors, and paintings, and is the result of in-depth curatorial research into the more than 2,500 works on paper by Hopper in the Whitney’s collection, many of which have never been seen. The works on view will span the artist’s career, and will include 22 of his best-known paintings— including Office at Night (1940) from the Walker’s collection—with their preparatory drawings and studies. In doing so, the exhibition illuminates how the artist transformed ordinary subjects—a city street, an office space, a house, a bedroom—into enduring images that are among the most celebrated in American art.
“The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to understand not only Hopper’s creative process, but also the remarkable influence that his environment had on his work,” said Siri Engberg, the coordinating curator for the Walker’s presentation. “The exhibition includes fascinating research into Hopper’s practice of synthesizing what he observed in the world around him with his own imagination. Drawing became the crucial link.” To illuminate this connection, the exhibition includes photographic documentation of the actual sites that inspired many of Hopper’s best-known works, and documentary films in the galleries.
Edward Hopper’s education as an artist was fairly traditional, with intensive early training in drawing—particularly rendering the nude human figure. This included life drawing classes at the New York School of Art, where he studied from 1900 to 1906 with the celebrated artist Robert Henri. In the 1920s, Hopper continued to hone his drawing skills at the Whitney Studio Club (a precursor to the Whitney Museum of American Art) near his Greenwich Village studio. His draftsmanship served Hopper throughout his career, especially after the 1930s, when he shifted from painting directly from nature to improvised subjects, deepening his drawing practice—often making 10-15 studies for a painting—as he imagined ideas for his oils.
The Walker’s presentation of the exhibition will be arrayed thematically and roughly chronologically, with focus on key paintings and their preparatory studies and related works. The presentation will be grouped into thematic areas:
Early Work, a section highlighting the artist’s first forays into the medium of drawing, from figure studies executed from life to illustrations, portraits, and preparatory studies.
Hopper in Paris, a section presenting work produced during Hopper’s early and formative travels to Paris and Europe between 1906 and 1910.
Hopper and the City, a section highlighting Hopper’s strong affinity for urban subject matter, particularly the environs of New York, where he lived and worked for most of his career.
The Interior, a section devoted to Hopper’s often intimate glimpses into the narratives played out in the inner life of the city.
The Road, a group of works featuring the roadside landscape that became one of the artist’s central motifs, reflecting the impact of the automobile on American life as well as Hopper’s experiences of landscapes seen in motion, framed by his car’s windows.
The Bedroom, the exhibition’s final section, features a group of works based on the theme of the solitary figure in a room, a subject that Hopper treated in every medium in which he worked during his career—from oil paint and watercolor to etching and drawing.
While exhibitions and scholarly publications have investigated many aspects of Hopper’s art—his prints, his illustrations, his influence on contemporary art and film, to name a few—this exhibition will, for the first time, illuminate the centrality of drawing to Hopper’s work, and allow a fresh view on his landmark contributions to twentieth-century art. His drawings help to untangle the complex relationship between reality—what Hopper called “the fact”—and imagination or “improvisation” in his work. These sensitive and incisive responses to the world around him led to the creation of paintings that continue to inspire and fascinate.
Organizing curator: Carter E. Foster, the Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center coordinating curator: Siri Engberg, Senior Curator of Visual Arts.
Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process
Thursday, March 13, 5-9 pm FREE
Kick off the exhibition with music, fashion, and films that capture Edward Hopper’s America. Dress up in your favorite 1930s or ’40s look, peek into Old School Art School, sip cocktails of the era from the cash bar, and catch a screening of The Savage Eye, which “looks like a Hopper canvas set in motion and filmed in black and white” (New York Times).
Film: The Savage Eye, 6:30 and 8 pm
Directed by Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, and Joseph Strick
“If anyone wants to see what America is, go and see a movie called The Savage Eye,” enthused Edward Hopper about this key film of American New Wave Cinema. Incorporating documentary sequences and a cinema vérité visual approach, the film captures the solitude of urban life shared in the artist’s work. 1960, video, 68 minutes.
Old School Art School, 6–8 pm
Target and Friedman Galleries
A fully functioning studio built within the exhibition offers visitors drop-in drawing opportunities as well as instructor-led classes on select Thursdays and Saturdays. Tonight, catch a demo session by the Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art.
Office at Night Photobooth, 5–9 pm
Step inside and create your own scene in our photobooth styled with 1940s-era props to recreate Hopper’s iconic painting Office at Night (1940). Dress for the part!
OLD SCHOOL ART SCHOOL
A dedicated gallery space adjacent to the exhibition will house Old School Art School, a fully functioning studio in which local art instructors will conduct drawing classes ranging from beginners’ lessons to advanced life drawing. The space will be activated on a series of Thursdays and Saturdays throughout the presentation, including the Thursday, March 13 Opening-Day Party, and Saturday, June 14 for Northern Spark. Visit walkerart.org for details and an updated schedule.
A selection from the short film series Hopper Stories (2012) will be presented in a screening area within the galleries. The French/German cultural television channel Arte commissioned eight European directors to each create a short film based on an Edward Hopper painting for the series, and three of films related to work in the exhibition are on view during gallery hours: The Muse, Conference at Night, and Hope.
In The Muse, directed by Sophie Barthes, the artist’s muse (Rebecca Brooksher, The Good Wife) breaks out of the painting Morning Sun (1952) and takes Hopper (Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man) for a tour of New York and to a late night café inspired by Nighthawks (1942). Barthes is best known for her 2009 adaptation of Anton Chekov’s Cold Souls starring Paul Giamatti. 6 minutes.
Conference at Night, directed by Valérie Mréjen, offers four possible narratives to the painting Conference at Night (1949) with actors Marilyne Canto, Antonie Chappey and Pierre Baux. Mréjen won the Jameson Short Film Award at the 2003 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival for Chamonix and directed the feature film Iris in Bloom in 2011. In French with English subitles, 5 minutes.
In the final short film Hope, directed by Dominique Blanc, a lonely clown played by Clémence Poséy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) removes her make-up and stands in the glow of the morning light inspired by the painting Woman in the Sun (1961). This is the first narrative short film directed by Blanc, who has an illustrious career as an actress garnering four César awards for roles in Stand By (2000), Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1998), Indochine (1992), and May Fools (1990). 5 minutes.
OFFICE AT NIGHT: A RESIDENCY AND LITERARY COLLABORATION
Coffee House Press and the Walker Art Center co-commissioned writers Laird Hunt and Kate Bernheimer to write a collaborative novella inspired by Edward Hopper’s Office at Night (1940) from the Walker’s collection. The writers describe their process as “taking up residence” inside the painting, imagining the lives and relationships between the enigmatic characters in Hopper’s iconic painting. The story will be released as a serial on the Walker’s website throughout the month of April and published as an e-book by Coffee House Press in June 2014.
Kate Bernheimer has been called “one of the living masters of the fairy tale.” She is the author of a novel trilogy and the story collections Horse, Flower, Bird and How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales (forthcoming from Coffee House Press in August 2014) and the editor of four anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning and best-selling My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths. She founded and edits the literary journal Fairy Tale Review.
Laird Hunt is the award-winning author of six books, including a short story collection and five novels from Coffee House Press: The Impossibly, Indiana, Indiana, The Exquisite, Ray of the Star, and Kind One, which was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award and winner of the 2013 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction. Currently on faculty in the University of Denver’s Creative Writing Program, he is editor of the Denver Quarterly.
This project is supported in part by the McKnight Foundation.
RELATED FILM SCREENING
Shirley—Visions of Reality
Directed by Gustav Deutsch
Thursday, May 15, 2014 FREE
Weaving the worlds of film and painting, director Gustav Deutsch creates striking tableaus based on Edward Hopper’s paintings including Office at Night (1940). Inhabited by a fictional actress named Shirley, the works come to life in precisely detailed and lit adaptations of some of Hopper’s most famous works from the 1930s-1960s. 2013, DCP, 92 minutes.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, Hopper Drawing, designed by McCall Associates and distributed by Yale University Press. The first in-depth study of Edward Hopper’s drawings, it features a number of the works reproduced for the first time, along with photographs and other archival materials. Written primarily by Carter E. Foster, the catalogue also includes contributions by Daniel S. Palmer, Nicholas Robbins, Kimia Shahi, and Mark W. Turner. ($60; Hardcover; 250 pages)
Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.
Additional support for the Walker’s presentation is generously provided by Miriam and Erwin Kelen and the Martin and Brown Foundation, and Robert and Rebecca Pohlad.