Edward Hopper’s iconic landscape paintings at ‘Fondation Beyeler’ in Basel

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Edward Hopper’s iconic landscape paintings at ‘Fondation Beyeler’ in Basel

Until 17 May 2020, the ‘Fondation Beyeler‘ in Basel, features an extensive exhibition dedicated to Edward Hopper’s iconic landscape paintings in oil as well as a selection of his watercolors and drawings.

cover image: EDWARD HOPPER, GAS, 1940
Oil on canvas, 66.7 x 102.2 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
© Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich
© 2019 Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

Widely acknowledged as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Hopper (1882–1967) is known in Europe mainly for his paintings of urban life scenes dating from the 1920s to 1960s, some of which have become highly popular images. Less attention has so far been paid to his landscape and, surprisingly, no exhibition to date has dealt comprehensively with Hopper’s approach to the American landscape. Although Hopper long worked mainly as an illustrator, his fame rests primarily on his oil paintings, which attest to his deep interest in color and his virtuosity in representing light and shadow. Moreover, on the basis of his observations, Hopper was able to establish a personal aesthetics that has influenced not only painting but also popular culture, photography, and film.

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EDWARD HOPPER, PORTRAIT OF ORLEANS, 1950
Oil on canvas, 66 x 101.6 cm
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Jerrold and June Kingsley
© Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: Randy Dodson, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

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EDWARD HOPPER, SECOND STORY SUNLIGHT, 1960
Oil on canvas, 102.1 x 127.3 cm
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art., Inv. N.: 60.54. © Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: © 2019. Digital image Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala

In the historical-artistic tradition, “landscape” means an image of nature as opposed to “nature” in continuous evolution, which as such cannot be fixed as an image. Landscape painting always shows the impact of man on nature and Hopper’s paintings reflect it in a subtle and multifaceted way. He, therefore, established a decidedly modern approach to a historical genre of art history. Unlike the academic tradition, Hopper’s landscapes seem limitless; in one’s mind, they are infinite and always seem to show only a small part of an immense whole. Hopper’s American landscapes are geometrically clear compositions: their main elements are the houses, which symbolize human settlement, while the railroad tracks structure the images horizontally and represent man’s commitment to conquering vast expanses of space.
Hopper’s landscape paintings seem to deal with something invisible, occurring outside the image, as illustrated for example by Cape Cod Morning (1950): a woman is looking out from a bay window, her face bathed in sunlight, staring at something the viewer cannot see because it is located beyond the pictorial space. As is the case with all his paintings, Hopper’s landscapes are defined by melancholy and loneliness. Hopper also shows the sometimes brutal intrusion of man into nature by confronting natural and urban landscapes. Hopper played a major role in establishing the notion of a melancholy America, defined also by the dark sides of progress – a vast, unlimited space, which became immensely popular especially through its development in films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959), Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984) or Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990).

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EDWARD HOPPER, BURLY COBB’S HOUSE, SOUTH TRURO, 1930 -1933
Oil on canvas, 64.1 x 92.1 cm
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Josephine N. Hopper Bequest
© Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: © 2019. Digital image Whitney Museum of American Art / Licensed by Scala

As a special highlight, filmmaker Wim Wenders has produced a 3D short film entitled ‘Two or Three Things I Know about Edward Hopper‘, screened in a dedicated room.
The film is Wenders’ personal tribute to Edward Hopper, who influenced his cinematic work. He traveled across the USA on a quest for “Hopper’s spirit”, condensing the resulting footage into a film that will premiere at the exhibition’s opening. In a poetic and moving way, the film shows just how indebted cinema is to Edward Hopper as well as the extent to which Hopper was in turn influenced by movies.

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above: ‘TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT EDWARD HOPPER‘
by Wim Wenders, 2020 © Road Movies

The exhibition comprises 65 works dating from 1909 to 1965. It is organized by the Fondation Beyeler in cooperation with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the worldwide major repository of Hopper’s work.

EDWARD HOPPER
26 January / 17 May 2020
Fondation Beyeler
Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125 Riehen/Basel
https://www.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/

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EDWARD HOPPER, CAPE COD MORNING, 1950
Oil on canvas, 86.7 x 102.3 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation
© Heirs of Josephine Hopper / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich
Photo: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gene Young

Images, courtesy of Fondation Beyeler


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copyright Inexhibit 2020 - ISSN: 2283-5474