Artist

Edward Hopper

born Nyack, NY 1882-died New York City 1967
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Edward Hopper, © Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0001707
Born
Nyack, New York, United States
Died
New York, New York, United States
Active in
  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States
Nationalities
  • American
Biography

Realist painter who studied with Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller at the New York School of Art. One of the country's most honored artists, Hopper was internationally acclaimed in his lifetime and was elected to both the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1945) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1955). He poetically painted the isolation and detachment of modern life; Nighthawks (1942) is arguably his best-known composition.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Artist Biography

A quintessential American realist, Hopper painted a repertoire of subjects ranging from the lighthouses and Victorian manses of the New England coast to the movie houses, offices, cafeterias, and highways of New York City. Hopper was associated with the Ash Can artists early in his career; he studied with Robert Henri at the New York School of Art from 1900 to 1906 and greatly admired John Sloan's etchings of New York City. In the 1920s he achieved recognition with his architectural paintings in which light is used dramatically to characterize his subjects. Whether depicting daylight scenes or nocturnal environments, his paintings have an introspective, contemplative aura that is enhanced by his frequent use of solitary figures set against blank walls. Mood was as important to Hopper as subject, as the statement he wrote for the catalogue of his 1933 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art makes clear: "My aim in painting has always been the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impressions of nature."

Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)

Luce Artist Biography

Edward Hopper started his career as an illustrator, but soon switched to painting and studied with the artist Robert Henri at the New York School of Art. He made three trips to Paris between 1906 and 1910, where he stayed with a French family and painted scenes of the city. Back in the United States, he resumed his commercial work, creating engravings and illustrations of everyday American life. These proved such a success that he was encouraged to return to easel painting, and by 1927 he had established himself with an exhibition in New York City. Hopper painted characteristic American subjects, from movie theaters and restaurants to New England lighthouses. His images capture dramatic areas of light and shadow and often evoke a strong sense of isolation and loneliness, even when there is more than one figure portrayed.

Exhibitions

Oil on canvas of a mirrored imaged with three semi circles and two red vertical lines in the middle.
Variations on America: Masterworks from American Art Forum Collections
April 12, 2007July 28, 2007
"Variations on America: Masterworks from American Art Forum Collections" celebrates the vision and passion of private collectors who are formally affiliated with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition presents 72 major artworks, several of which are rarely on public display, from 26 distinguished private collections by some of America's most talented and cherished artists, including John Singer Sargent, Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keeffe. Chief curator Eleanor Harvey and deputy chief curator George Gurney are the curators of the exhibition.
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Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
June 18, 2009January 10, 2010
Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the second in a series of special installations, celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists' works on paper. These exceptional watercolors, pastels, and drawings from the 1920s to the 1960s reveal the central importance of works on paper for American artists, both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art. Rarely seen works from the museum's permanent collection by artists such as Stuart Davis, Sam Francis, Edward Hopper, Willem de Kooning, Joseph Stella, Grant Wood, and Andrew Wyeth will be featured in the exhibition. Joann Moser, senior curator for graphic arts, selected the artworks in Graphic Masters.
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Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection
February 28, 2014August 16, 2014
Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection presents some of the most treasured artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection, including works by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Arthur Dove, Nancy Grossman, Edward Hopper, Wolf Kahn, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, Reginald Marsh, Ben Shahn, and Honoré Sharrer, among others. The exhibition includes seventy paintings and sculpture from the 1910s to the 1980s that encompass the range of what can broadly be called modern realism, from socio-political to psychological, from satirical to surrealist. The artworks on display were selected by Virginia Mecklenburg, chief curator at the museum.
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Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection
October 20, 2018November 28, 2018
This exhibition presents some of the most treasured paintings and sculpture from SAAM’s permanent collection, including artworks by Will Barnet, Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Jacob Lawrence, George Tooker, among others.

Related Books

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Edward Hopper: The Watercolors
In the 1920s, inspired perhaps by the particular light and quality of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Edward Hopper began painting watercolors. He has been celebrated since then as one of the most eloquent of America’s realists. Text by Virginia Mecklenburg and Margaret Ausfeld accompanies over a hundred brilliant color images as well as seventy additional illustrations and a chronology of Hopper’s life and works.
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Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection
In eighty-eight striking paintings and sculptures, Crosscurrents captures modernism as it moved from early abstractions by O’Keeffe, to Picasso and Pollock in midcentury, to pop riffs on contemporary culture by Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, and Tom Wesselmann—all illustrating the complexity and energy of a distinctly American modernism.
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Graphic Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Graphic Masters celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists’ works on paper. Exceptional watercolors, pastels, and drawings from the 1860s through the 1990s reveal the central importance of works on paper for American artists, both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art. Traditionally a more intimate form of expression than painting or sculpture, drawings often reveal greater spontaneity and experimentation. Even as works on paper become larger and more finished, competing in scale with easel paintings, they retain a sense of the artist’s hand, the immediacy of a thought made visible.