MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- The Walker Art Center
presents Hopper Drawing: A Painters Process, the first major exhibition to focus on the drawings and creative process of the iconic American artist Edward Hopper (18821967). While past exhibitions and publications have investigated Hoppers work and artistic practice, this touring exhibition for the first time illuminates the centrality of drawing to Hoppers work and allows a fresh look at many of his landmark paintings. Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the exhibition opened at the Walker on March 13, 2014 and will be on view through June 20, 2014 in the Target and Friedman Galleries.
Hopper Drawing: A Painters 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 Whitneys collection, many of which have never been seen. The works on view span the artists career, and include 22 of his best-known paintings including Office at Night (1940) from the Walkers collectionwith their preparatory drawings and studies. In doing so, the exhibition illuminates how the artist transformed ordinary subjectsa city street, an office space, a house, a bedroominto enduring images that are among the most celebrated in American art.
The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to understand not only Hoppers creative process, but also the remarkable influence that his environment had on his work, said Siri Engberg, the coordinating curator for the Walkers presentation. The exhibition includes fascinating research into Hoppers 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 Hoppers best-known works, and documentary films in the galleries.
Edward Hoppers education as an artist was fairly traditional, with intensive early training in drawingparticularly 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 practiceoften making 10-15 studies for a paintingas he imagined ideas for his oils.
The Walkers presentation of the exhibition has been arrayed thematically and roughly chronologically, with focus on key paintings and their preparatory studies and related works. The presentation has been grouped into thematic areas:
Early Work, a section highlighting the artists 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 Hoppers early and formative travels to Paris and Europe between 1906 and 1910.
Hopper and the City, a section highlighting Hoppers 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 Hoppers 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 artists central motifs, reflecting the impact of the automobile on American life as well as Hoppers experiences of landscapes seen in motion, framed by his cars windows.
The Bedroom, the exhibitions 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 careerfrom oil paint and watercolor to etching and drawing.
While exhibitions and scholarly publications have investigated many aspects of Hoppers arthis prints, his illustrations, his influence on contemporary art and film, to name a fewthis exhibition, for the first time, illuminates the centrality of drawing to Hoppers work, and allow a fresh view on his landmark contributions to twentieth-century art. His drawings help to untangle the complex relationship between realitywhat Hopper called the factand 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.