Thursday, April 06, 2006

ART GALLERY - Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), the best-known American realist of the inter-war period and one of my favourits. First Row Orchestra, (1951) Oil on canvas31 1/8 x 40 1/8 in.

Among Edward Hopper's favorite urban subjects were the theaters and movie houses of Manhattan. "First Row Orchestra" belongs to this group of richly evocative paintings. Hopper and his wife, Josephine Nivison Hopper--a painter and former actress--frequently attended movies and theater performances.
As an illustrator early in his career, Hopper had occasionally produced commercial illustrations on theatrical themes. While the performing arts had long provided subject matter for modern artists (notably Edgar Degas), Hopper most often chose to depict the audience rather than the performers.
For "First Row Orchestra" he selected an oblique vantage point, accentuating the recession of the stage and orchestra seats that seem to converge on the stylishly attired couple at the far right. The tuxedoed gentleman and his companion, wearing a fur coat, share a playbill--but the psychological distance between man and woman is at odds with the intimacy of their action. In his characteristically spare style, Hopper recast the public sphere of the theater as the setting for a private drama of modern life. Text adapted from "Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: 150 Works of Art" (1996).



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