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Definition: Hopper, Edward from Philip's Encyclopedia

US realist painter. A pupil of Robert Henri, he was greatly influenced by the Ashcan school. His paintings of scenes in New England and New York City, such as Early Sunday Morning (1930), convey a unique sense of melancholic romanticism.


Summary Article: Hopper, Edward from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US painter, printer, and illustrator. One of the foremost American realists, and the most famous exponent of New Realism in the 20th century, he is often associated with American Scene painting. His views of New York City and New England in the 1930s and 1940s, painted in rich colours with stark light, convey a brooding sense of emptiness and solitude. Through his use of light, planes of colour, and large angles, verticals, and horizontals, Hopper was able to capture both a moment in time and the inner world of individuals occupying a particular space, as in Nighthawks (1942; Art Institute, Chicago).

Born in Nyack, New York, Hopper studied illustration at the Commercial Art School, New York 1899–1900, and painting at the New York School of Art 1901–06, where his teacher Robert Henri, a member of the Ashcan School, was an important influence.

He visited Europe several times between 1906 and 1910. While he remained untouched by avant-garde development, the influence of European art made a major impact on his use of light – one of the most distinguishing elements of his work. He was also influenced by the work of the French satirical cartoonist Honore Daumier and the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. Although Hopper spent his summers on the New England coast, painting lighthouses, seascapes, and villages, he devoted himself primarily to painting the urban background of American life. Bars, railroad tracks, isolated people, and street scenes, such as Early Sunday Morning (1930; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York), are constants in Hopper's paintings. His style, though highly individual, drew on the strong tradition of realism.

Hopper was virtually unknown as a painter until the late 1920s. He first exhibited at the Armory Show in 1913 but, after very little success, recoiled as a painter and worked as a commercial illustrator. His magazine covers of the 1920s are most notable. He returned to painting in 1925 with House by the Railroad (Museum of Modern Art New York). The work epitomizes Hopper's individual style, being characterized by simple composition, the use of sometimes uncanny light, and themes of isolation, solitude, and occasionally sadness. He adhered to this simplistic style for the remainder of his career, creating works such as Drug Store (1927; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Room in New York (1932; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Nebraska), and New York Movie (1939; Museum of Modern Art, New York). Hopper is now one of the most famous US painters of the 20th century.

Other New Realist artists include Andrew Wyeth.

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