Michael Blackburn's ART ZERO


The Strange Case of Edward Hopper's Paintings

I once saw an exhibition of Edward Hopper paintings at the
Hayward Gallery in London. Having seen examples of his work
and articles about it in the colour supplements I was keen to
see the paintings themselves. These, however, proved a great
disappointment. What had appeared in the magazines as glowing
icons of American life in solitary and mysterious moments
turned out be rather dull, flat and lustreless images.

I concluded from this that Hopper was truly a modern artist in that
his work, irrespective of the content, found its natural
habitat in media other than the traditional one of paint on canvas,
that is, in the colour reproductions of magazines, postcards and
brochures. Somehow this transposing of the images, accompanied
by a substantial reduction in size, bestowed on them a photographic
gloss that brought out the mystery and glow that had first impressed me.

Normally this kind of disappointment proves terminal: neither the
authentic object nor the reproductions can ever recapture the
excitement first induced in the viewer. In Hopper's case, however,
since his work is widely available in print form - that is, in its
true form - that excitement is always accessible. The originals,
bizarrely enough, are obsolete.

Site Map/The Archive

For Hopper posters go to artrepublic.com,
the recommended site for posters and prints.