Silent Theater: The Art of Edward Hopper
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Edward Hopper's (1882-1967) paintings are often described as belonging to a school of American realism, and were in part inspired by the works of European realists such as Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet, however the underlying themes of loneliness, melancholy and silence that pervade his works also recall the surrealist, dream-like images of Giorgio de Chirico. These elements of the dream world and the subconscious - psychological states that are intrinsic to all people, however little we understand them - may be what make Hopper's works so universally compelling. The paintings embody a particularly American sensibility, Hopper's evocative depictions of both urban and rural settings, including theatre interiors, railways, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, street scenes and coastal landscapes, have become iconic images of early twentieth-century American culture. Edward Hopper studied illustration and painting in New York City, where he was taught by the artist Robert Henri. Travelling in Europe after completing his education, Hopper gained inspiration from the simple paintings of the realist school and his early works are testimony to this influence. 'House by a Railroad', completed in 1925, marked a turning point in Hopper's artistic development, he went on to hone his mature painting style, which included the use of stark contrasts of sunlight and shadow, the juxtaposed verticals and horizontals of architectural forms, large, bold shapes and often the presence of silent, emotionally detached figures. Walter Wells' informative yet eminently readable monograph explores the many facets of Hopper's art, discussing from various perspectives his etchings, watercolours and oil paintings, which represent a wide range of subjects. Particular attention is paid to the literary works from which Hopper took inspiration, as well as the ways in which the artist's own psychology and emotional states influenced his output.