Special Exhibition To Focus on Little-Known Period of The Realist Master’s Career
Stockbridge, MA, June 4, 2014—More than one hundred years ago, Norman Rockwell was 20 years old and fresh out of art school. The 1913 New York Armory Show had introduced Europe’s avant-garde artists to America in the biggest art show ever, standing the art world on its head as 90,000 visitors encountered modern art for the first time. Edward
Hopper’s 1911 painting, “Sailing” made it into that show, a beacon for the artist who had been working as an illustrator for 12 years but struggled to break free of the commercial constraints of a profession he did not enjoy. In contrast, young Rockwell yearned for success in the illustration field, and by 1916 had landed his first cover commission for “The Saturday Evening Post.”
In December 2013, artwork by Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper set the all-time sales records for American paintings at auction, confirming the enduring popularity of these two artists from the twentieth century.
This summer, Norman Rockwell Museum will present the early work of these two remarkable artists side by side, offering a rare glimpse into their formative years before they embarked on divergent paths as painters. “The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator” will be on view at Norman Rockwell Museum from June 7 through October 26, 2014.
“Like Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper had an obvious gift for narrative painting,” notes Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. “Both artists were extraordinarily adept at storytelling and depicting light. As a Museum dedicated to the study of American illustration art, we are happy to showcase this little-known aspect of Hopper’s career.”
“Many noted American modernists have successfully traversed the worlds of fine art and illustration, embracing innovation while satisfying, in unique and personal ways, the needs and wants of a broad popular audience,” notes exhibition curator Stephanie Plunkett. “The Unknown Hopper” will offer a unique look at attitudes toward art and the crosscurrents of contemporary commercial society during the early to mid-twentieth century.”
“The Unknown Hopper” will present a comprehensive study of Edward Hopper’s nearly 20- year illustration career, featuring more than 50 original drawings and paintings by Hopper. These include important works from the Whitney Museum of American Art, through a bequest from the artist’s wife, Josephine N. Hopper; New Britain Museum of American Art; Mead Art Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and other collections.
Also included in this remarkable exhibit are original paintings and illustrations by Hopper’s fellow students and teachers, among them, C. Coles Phillips, John Sloan, and Robert Henri, establishing an artistic and historic context for his 20-year illustration career, which began in Phillip’s New York agency in 1906.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring commentary by Gail Levin, Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at The Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York. The acknowledged authority on Edward Hopper, she is the author of many books including a four-volume catalogue raisonné (1995), “Edward Hopper as Illustrator” (1979), and “Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography” (1995), which appeared in a second expanded edition in 2007. Dr. Levin will speak about her biography of Edward Hopper during a lecture at Norman Rockwell Museum on Thursday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m.
“The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator” is made possible, in part, through generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Carol Konner, Deanna & Jordan Berman, and the Elayne P. Bernstein Fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
About Edward Hopper
Born in Nyack, New York, Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is recognized as one of the greatest American artists of the twentieth century. His spare and finely calculated renderings of urban and rural scenes reflected his personal vision of modern American life.
Encouraged to study illustration by his parents, Hopper took courses at the Correspondence School of Illustrating, and at the New York School of Art. Noted illustrator/painters Arthur Ignatius Keller, Frank Vincent DuMond, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Robert Henri were among his teachers. John Sloan, who worked regularly as a commercial artist prior to 1916, also was an early influence.
In 1906, Hopper landed a part-time job at an advertising agency and went on to create images for such popular magazines as “Scribner’s Magazine,” “Everbodys,” and “Country Gentleman,” and for specialty journals like “Hotel Management,” “The Morse Dial,” and “Wells Fargo Messenger.” A very private individual, he left no written reflections on his two-decade career as an illustrator, even though he believed that an artist’s mature development was linked to the work of his formative years.
Between 1906 and 1910, the artist made three trips to Paris. Unlike other American artists of the time, Hopper ignored the innovations of the city’s most avant-garde artists, favoring an earlier generation of European painters, including Rembrandt, Degas, and the Impressionists, whose work was praised by his former teacher Robert Henri.
Attracted to realist art, Hopper began producing etchings and painting urban and architectural scenes in a dark palette. His first one-person exhibition was held in January 1920 at the Whitney Studio Club, founded five years earlier by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. In July 1924, Hopper married Josephine Verstille Nivison, a fellow painter whom he had met in art school.
Hopper was very productive through the next four decades, producing such important works as “Automat” (1927), “Chop Suey” (1929), “New York Movie” (1939), “Girlie Show” (1941), “Nighthawks” (1942), “Hotel Lobby” (1943), “Morning in a City” (1944), and “Hotel by a Railroad” (1952). The influence of his distinctive style is felt to this day, extending beyond painting into photography, film, and popular culture.
Saturday, July 19 at 5:30 p.m.
An Evening with Whitney Museum Curator Carter E. Foster
Carter E. Foster, the Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing at the Whitney Museum of American Art, will examine how Edward Hopper used drawing to develop his paintings, recording his direct observations of the world as well as his imaginative transformations. Carter E. Foster is the curator of Hopper Drawing; a reception and book signing will follow the program.
Impossible Craft: The Artist’s Biography
Thursday, July 24, 5:30 p.m.
Meet Dr. Gail Levin, an acknowledged authority on Hopper. Dr. Levin will speak about her 1995 biography on the artist, and discuss the challenges and intricacies of crafting an artist’s biography. Free with Museum admission.
Thursday, July 31 at 5:30 p.m.
Inside Hopper’s World: A Contemporary Painter’s View
An Evening with Philip Koch
Painter Philip Koch has taken much inspiration from Edward Hopper’s art, and since 1983, he has had unprecedented access to the studio in Truro, Massachusetts where Hopper worked in for thirty years. Koch will discuss Hopper’s life on Cape Cod and take a comparative look at the artist’s paintings and illustrations. Philip Koch is a Senior Professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. A reception will follow. Free with Museum admission.
Sketchology: Wine, Cheese, and Art-making
Friday, August 1
6 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Join us for an enjoyable evening of art-making and socializing that will spark both creativity and conversation. Award winning illustrator Whitney Sherman will inspire new ways of seeing through a series of playful sketching exercises from her new book, Playing with Sketches: 50 Creative Sketches for Artists and Designers. Join the fun! $20, $15 members.
Thursday, August 7 at 5:30 p.m.
Sentimental Journey: Clothing in the Art of Hopper and Rockwell
An Evening with Fashion Historian Lynda Meyer
Clothing historian Lynda Meyer will explore the historical, technological, and political influences on fashion in the early twentieth century, a time when Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell were creating illustrations for periodicals and advertisers. Original period garments inspired by the artist’s work will be featured. Lynda Meyer is the owner of Lynda’s Antique Clothing Loft in Adams, MA, and has lectured widely on the history of fashion. A reception will follow. Free with Museum admission.
Thursday, August 14 at 5:30 p.m.
Edward Hopper in Vermont
An Evening with Author Bonnie Tocher Clause
Edward and Jo Hopper first discovered the scenic beauty of Vermont in 1927, traveling there again in 1935 and 1936 in their continuing search for new places to paint. During his Vermont sojourns, Edward Hopper produced some two dozen paintings—watercolors that are among the most distinctive of his regional works. Author Bonnie Tocher Clause will tell the story of Hopper’s visits to Vermont and the sites depicted in his singular interpretations of the region. A book signing and reception will follow. Free with Museum admission.
FAMILY FESTIVAL DAY
Saturday, August 16 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Rockwell and Hopper: Illustrating Our World
Discover the stories that art can tell! Explore the art of Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper during this activity-filled day. Enjoy storytelling, art-making, and a special signing of “Edward Hopper Paints His World” with author Robert Burleigh and illustrator Wendell Minor. Members free, free with Museum admission.
Saturday, August 16 at 3 p.m.
Mama, Your Boy (and Girl) Should Be an Illustrator!
An Afternoon with Rockwell Center Curator Joyce K. Schiller, Ph.D.
Join Rockwell Center curator Joyce K. Schiller, Ph.D. for a fascinating look at the promise and the realities of life as a working illustrator in early twentieth century America for Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, and many other artists. The markets and popular publications that commissioned illustration, and the hype about high salaries and glamorous lifestyles, will be explored.
Thursday, August 21 at 5:30 p.m.
Edward Hopper: Light and Shadow
An A Cappella Evening with Quintessential
Enjoy an evening of Hopper-inspired song with Quintessential, a creative and accomplished a cappella group featuring David Anderegg, Steve Dahlin, Jim McMenamy, Al Thorpe, and Jay Wise. A reception will follow. Free with Museum admission.
Thursday, August 28 at 5:30 p.m.
The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator
An Evening with Chief Curator Stephanie Haboush Plunkett
Explore the little-known twenty-year illustration career of celebrated painter Edward Hopper, and discuss the teachers and fellow artists who helped shape his vision in this interactive gallery walk with exhibition curator Stephanie Haboush Plunkett. A reception will follow. Free with Museum admission.
Saturday, September 13 at 2 p.m.
American Dreamer: Robert McClosky and the Art of the Picture Book
An Afternoon with Picture Book Historian Leonard Marcus
Celebrate the centenary of legendary illustrator Robert McClosky (1914-2003), whose 1942 book Make Way for Ducklings, about a family of Boston mallards nesting along the Charles River, remains a contemporary favorite. Noted author/children’s book historian Leonard Marcus will discuss McClosky within the context of mid-twentieth century American culture, drawing comparisons with Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart Benton, Frank Capra, Aaron Copland, Jackson Pollock, and other celebrated figures with a special gift for finding the mythic dimension in the every day. Refreshments will be served.
Saturday, September 20 at 5 p.m.
Edward Hopper’s House: How a Small Town Saved a Nyack Treasure
An Afternoon with Victoria Hertz and Carole Perry
Explore the world of Hopper House, the historic home in Nyack, New York where Edward Hopper spent his formative years. Executive Director Victoria Hertz and Executive Artistic Director Carole Perry will share stories of Hopper’s childhood and family life, the influence of the Hudson River on his art, and the community’s efforts to save his home and preserve his legacy.
Hopper House & Edward Hopper’s Nyack, New York
Saturday, September 27
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Board a comfortable coach bus for a day trip to Hopper House, Edward Hopper’s boyhood home in the charming riverfront village of Nyack, New York. We’ll tour this unique historic structure built by the artist’s maternal grandfather, now open as a vibrant art center, and visit other significant Nyack sites, including the riverfront where he spent much of his time and the family plot at Oak Hill Cemetery where Hopper, his wife Jo, and his sister Marion are buried. A delicious lunch at one of Nyack’s fine eateries is included. $65; $55 members.
Saturday, October 4 at 5:30 p.m.
Remembering the Harlem Renaissance
An Evening with Dr. Homer Meade
The Harlem Renaissance influenced every aspect of culture in the 1920’s and 1930’s, from the art of Edward Hopper to the music of Cole Porter. Dr. Homer Meade will explain how the art forms explored during the Harlem Renaissance inspired and influenced one another, and how W.E.B. DuBois, a Berkshire native, reached out to connect many of the talented figures in this movement. This program is presented in partnership with Berkshire School. A reception will follow.