Sunday, February 25, 2018

Fernando Botero by Kathleen Embury


 "An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it." -Fernando Botero, 1992


Fernando Botero was born in Medellin, Columbia, in 1932, a highly commercial city in the Andes.  Growing up surrounded by the Baroque-esque colonial churches and bustling city influenced his style from the start. As his father died when he was a child, Botero's uncle played a large role in his life, sending him to a school for matadors after he completed secondary school at the Jesuit School of Bolivar.  After finishing his education, Botero moved first to Bogotá, and then to various cities with rich art scenes such as Madrid and Paris, where he studied works in the Louvre.  Botero returned to Columbia when he first married, during which he had three children, and on to New York for 14 years after he divorced in 1960.  Botero married twice more, tragically losing his only child from his second marriage in a car accident.  He settled in Paris with his third wife, Greek artist Sophia Vari, with whom he currently frequently travels and owns a home in Pietrasanta, Italy.

Early on, Botero's works were mainly inspired by famous artists such as Diego Rivera and José Orozco.  The avante garde Columbian art scene he was exposed to early on influenced his diversion from traditional art.  He started out focusing on still life paintings and landscapes, where his signature style became apparent:
In Red and Blue, 1976, Oil on Canvas.

Orange, 1977, Oil on Canvas
In these, some of Botero's earlier works, Botero's exaggeration of proportion and volume is already exemplified.  Though his personal aesthetic would become even more apparent as he honed his unique artistic style, it can be seen here that he is following his instincts to draw in distortion, such as with the tiny sound hole in the center of the large, bulbous shaped instrument in In Red and Blue. Botero himself claimed that an orange is the best subject to reflect an artist's individual style.  The painting above can be immediately recognized as a Botero based on it's perfectly round shape, bold colors, and tiny details (i.e. the minuscule worm). 

Soon Botero settled into focusing on drawing human figures and self portraiture, where his unique style shined through in abstract colors, proportions, and volumes.  Commonly known as "fat figures," his works actually display an expansion of volume that fills space, creating large contrast with tiny details, not fatness.  For example, in El Arraste below, it can be seen that the human figures are not "fat" per se, as everything else is also swollen and expanded: the horses, the bull, as well as the men, who are in turn far to small in relation to the enormous bull.  Botero has his own distortion of reality that is instantly recognizable.  His style came through during his brief venture into sculpture as well, as can be seen in his expanded Horse.
El Arraste, 1987, Oil on Canvas

 Horse, 1992, Park Avenue, New York, New York


Some of Botero's most distinctive works were his renditions of other artists' famous works, such as Goya's and Da Vinci's.  Rather than trying to copy them, he interpreted them in his own unique style, influenced by exaggerating volumes and expressionism.  His imitation of Da Vinci is striking and immediately recognized as a Botero, with the Mona Lisa's  tiny hands and small facial features in relation to an otherwise round and enlarged form:
Mona Lisa, 1978, Oil on Canvas

More recently, Botero gained attention for a series of paintings displaying the violence of U.S. forces against prisoners  in Abu Ghraib during the Iraq war.  Other recent subjects include Une Famille, a collection focused on the common Columbian family, and an oil and watercolor collection Circus in 2010.  Some examples of these are shown below.  His works have been exhibited all over the world, including in Washington D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Japan, Russia, and The National Museum of Columbia, to name a few.
Family Scene, 1967, Oil on Canvas
"Abu Ghraib 7," 2004, Sanguine on Paper
"Contortionist," 2007, Oil on Canvas

I chose Botero because I had never seen anything like his work before.   I love how Botero uses such advanced techniques of shading and value, but still many of his works seem somewhat child-like, seeming to be made to make the viewer laugh and smile.  Yet he is still able to depict serious subjects, modifying his unique style to fit the mood he wants to create in the viewer, as with his Abu Ghraib collection.  I was most drawn to his renditions of other famous works we know so well, such as the Mona Lisa above.  I normally gravitate toward a more realistic style of drawing and painting, and so I waned to go outside of my comfort zone by looking at abstract artists. Botero's use of bold colors and lively subjects popped out to me, somehow seeming so alive while clearly a distortion of reality. His style of drawing inflated volumes and bloated figures while creating such large contrast with tiny details is intriguing and delightful.

References

Botero, Juan Carlos. The Art of Fernando Botero. Ediciones el Viso, 2013. Print.

Botero, Fernando, and Rudy Chiappini. Botero. Skira, 2017. Print.

Schatz, Jean Ershler. "Biography: Fernando Botero." askART, 2004, http://www.askart.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/artist_bio/Fernando_Botero/9000119/Fernando_Botero.aspx. Web. 25 Feb 2018.

International Artists. "Biography from Vared Gallery." askART, http://www.askart.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/artist_bio/Fernando_Botero/9000119/Fernando_Botero.aspx. Web. 25 Feb 2018.

Botero, Fernando, Colombian, b.1932. In Red and Blue. http://library.artstor.org.proxy.lib.duke.edu/asset/ABARNITZ_10310364090. Web. 25 Feb 2018.

Botero, Fernando, Columbian b. 1932, Orange. https://www.wikiart.org/en/fernando-botero/orange. Web. 25 Feb 2018. 

Botero, Fernando, b. 1932, El Arraste. http://www.colarte.com/colarte/foto.asp?idfoto=6961. Web 25 Feb 2018. 

Fernando Botero. Horse. 1992. http://library.artstor.org.proxy.lib.duke.edu/asset/LARRY_QUALLS_10310850196. Web. 25 Feb 2018.

Botero, Fernando, Columbia b. 1932, Mona Lisa. http://www.galleryintell.com/artex/mona-lisa-by-fernando-botero/. Web. 25 Feb 2018. 

Botero, Fernando, Columbia b. 1932, "Abu Ghraib 7." https://clas.berkeley.edu/research/botero-berkeley-fernando-botero-abu-ghraib. Web. 25 Feb 2018. 

Botero, Fernando, 1932-. Family Scene. 1967. http://library.artstor.org.proxy.lib.duke.edu/asset/ARTSTOR_103_41822000985174. Web. 25 Feb 2018.

Botero, Fernando, Columbia b. 1932, "Contortionist." https://clas.berkeley.edu/research/art-fernando-boteros-circus. Web. 25 Feb 2018. 

Fernando Botero (1992). “Fernando Botero: Paintings and Drawings”, Prestel Pub.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (by Lexi Bateman)

"One has to seek Beauty and Truth, sir! As I always say to my pupils, you have to work to the finish. There's only one kind of painting. It is the painting that presents the eye with perfection, the kind of beautiful and impeccable enamel you find in [Paolo] Veronese and [Tiziano Vecelli] Titian."

"Each day I go to my studio full of joy; in the evening when obliged to stop because of the darkness I can scarcely wait for the next morning... My work is not only a pleasure, it has become a necessity. No matter how many other things I have in my life, if I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable." 


Biography 

William Bouguereau was born in La Rochelle, France on November 30, 1825 into a family of wine and oil merchants. Bouguereau demonstrated an early affinity for drawing, but it wasn't until he began his studies at a French priesthood in Pons in 1939 that he received any formal arts training. Not much is known about his teacher, Louis Sage (1816-1888), except that he trained in Ingres' studio when he was younger. Bouguereau began working for his parents in the early 1840s, but didn't give up his schooling or his love of drawing. He continued to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux during the early mornings and late evenings. After two years of part-time studying (1844), Bouguereau won the first prize in figure painting for a piece representing Saint Roch -- an accomplishment that launched his art career.

In 1846, after tirelessly painting friends' portraits (thirty-three in total) for additional income, Bouguereau had earned enough money to move to Paris, the world's arts apex. With a recommendation from Jean-Paul Alaux, his head master at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Bouguereau was accepted to François-Edouard Picot's (1786-1868) studio and then to the Paris branch of Ecole de Beaux-Arts.

At the time, the highest prize in the arts was the Prix de Rome. It was awarded to ten artists whose history paintings were deemed exceptional. Bouguereau was chosen as a contestant for the award in 1848 and again in 1849. He finally won the award in 1850 for his Zenobia Found by Shepherds on the Banks of Araxes -- though he technically placed second in terms of votes. As a recipient of the prize, he traveled to Rome where he studied classical art and Italian Renaissance painters for four years at the Villa Medici. While in Italy, he earned himself the nickname "Sisyphus" because he applied himself so rigorously to his studies. During his time in Rome, he was copied renowned works in Orvieto, Assisi, Siena, Florence, Pisa, Ravenna, Venice, Parma, Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Bologna, Albano and Nemi, and Castle Gandolfo -- pieces that would influence his artistic style for the duration of his life.

When he returned to Paris in 1854, he was commended for his portraiture and decorative cycles. He exhibited some of his paintings at the Salon -- an annual exhibition of contemporary art in the city. Because of his schooling in the priesthood as well as the focus of his studies at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, most of his early work drew on mythology, classical, and biblical history, though they were not his most commercially popular paintings. He began to paint more simple scenes -- children with their mothers and shepherdesses that could be hung on the walls of homes. By the early 1860s, Bouguereau's work was popular in both England and America.

By the end of his life, Bouguereau had amassed countless accolades and produced almost seven hundred paintings.

Artistic Style

William Bouguereau's paintings can be characterized by their hyper-realist, technically perfect style. He interpreted traditional, orthodox genre paintings and mythical scenes with Classical subjects and an emphasis on the female form. Because Bouguereau was committed to Realism, he advocated against the growing Impressionist movement of the time. His vocal refutation of Impressionist works made him somewhat unpopular amongst proponents of the movement, but his paintings remained popular with wealthy art patrons. 


Selected Works 



L'innnocence
L'innocence is perhaps the most well-known of Bouguereau's works. Because he painted primarily for historical purposes (as was expected during the time), many of his paintings refer to biblical stories or ancient Greek and Roman myths. This painting foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus, as Mary holds him in her arms together with a sacrificial lamb. Bouguereau's technical success is evident in this piece; he was both a portrait artist and a landscape painter. He captures both a perfect human form and a detailed landscape backdrop in this single painting. This work is respectfully traditional of Renaissance style and composition, while also being remarkably detailed, light, and evocative.



Study for Summer
Though I could not find the final Summer painting -- if Bouguereau even made one, that is -- I think this study sketch is valuable in its own right. Given that this is a pencil sketch, I was amazed at how consistently he was able to shade in this figure. He has achieved at least five values with his pencil -- a task that I find particularly challenging. I have a hard time working with pencil when shading because pencils want to leave lines, not consistent shades. With a detailed piece like this, I would have chosen to work with charcoal simply because I think it's easier to control. Hats off to Bouguereau!

Nymphs and Satyr, Studies and Final 
Nymphs and Satyr is another of Bouguereau's more popular and well-known paintings. I discovered in my research some sketches that he did before he started work on the final painting itself. I thought that his detailed figure drawings of Satyr and some of the nymphs were interesting because you can see the initial gesture drawing and the more polished sketch all on one page. In these sketches, you can really follow the artists process through to the final image. I also thought that the larger sketches were important in understanding how Bouguereau thought about composition. He really worked in these to establish large, dramatic planes of motion in the piece, and he played with the orientation of the image so that he could find the best, most effective composition for the painting. Often times I think of painters as just sitting down in front of a blank canvas and painting. These sketches really opened my eyes to the amount of meticulous plotting and planning Bouguereau put into his work. 



Night, Twilight, Dawn, Day Series
This series contains my favorite of Bouguereau's paintings. I love Renaissance art because it prioritizes the human form, portraying it with ethereal, eternal, unearthly beauty. I was drawn to Twilight because it maintains that same level of physical human beauty while also subverting the traditional Renaissance style by being a little bit creepy. The moon just beginning to appear in the sky and the black shroud that envelops the central figure feel ominous to me, especially given the stark contrast against the pale whiteness of the figure herself. This ominous tone reaches a climax in Night, where the black shroud feels more tangible and birds begin to swoop down out of the sky seemingly at the figure herself. These paintings as a series are cohesive enough in composition to feel like a unit, but different in subtle ways that make each of these distinct figures feel like these moments to me. The woman in Twilight is Twilight, as the woman in Day is Day. I find the first two images in this series especially striking -- compositionally and technically beautiful. They embody what I love about Renaissance art and twist it into something a bit darker and more sinister. 

Sources

  •  Bartoli, Damien and Frederick Ross. William Bouguereau. Antique Collector's Club, 2010.
  • William Bouguereau: 1825-1905, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (catalogue)
  • Wissman, Fronia E. Bouguereau. Pomegranate Artbooks, 1996.
  • https://www.bouguereau.org

Odilon Redon (by Caroline Breaux)

Odilon Redon (1840-1916), born as Bertrand-Jean Redon, was a French symbolist printmaker and painter.  "Odilon" is the nickname he received from his mother, Odile.  Drawing had always been an interest of Odilon, even from a young age.  He tried to pursue it formally at age 15, however his father pushed for him to become an architect instead.  In order to please his father, Redon went to Paris in hopes of studying architecture, but failed the entrance exam causing him to return to his hometown of Bordeaux in 1864.  Around this time, he took up etching.  In 1870, he was drafted to serve in the Franco-Prussian War for a year. 
Photograph of Odilon Redon,
Courtesy of www.theartstory.com

After the war, he moved to Paris to continue the artistic career he had attempted to start prior to being drafted. He eventually was encouraged to try lithography and realized that this technique allowed him to achieve a vast range of rich tones and contrasts of light and dark, which was crucial to his style as he almost exclusively worked in black and white.  His works that were produced in shades of black were called his noirs.  During the span of his life, he created about 30 etchings and 200 lithographs. 

Strange Flower (Little Sister of the Poor), 1880

Uses various charcoals, with black chalk and black Conté crayon.  Techniques include stumping, wiping, erasing, on yellowish cream wove paper altered to a golden tone


"Black is the most essential colour.  Nothing prostitutes it." 
                                                                    

Guardian Spirit of the Waters, 1878

Uses various charcoals, with added touches of black chalk. Techniques include stumping, erasing, wiping, adding traces of white chalk, all on cream wove paper altered to a golden tone.

Often using nature as a starting point, his works are representations of new worlds found only in the imagination of Redon himself.  They encompass both symbolism and surrealism as they advocate for this use of imagination and stray far away from realism, allowing for a more personal artistic vision.  His works also seem to have various literary associations and symbolism as many are interpretations of writers such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, and Poe.  In order to spread his work to larger audiences effectively, Redon used albums based on specific themes or literary subjects in order to group his lithographs.  The following two lithographs come from Redon's portfolio of six lithographs called To Edgar Poe. These prints were not intended to be exact illustrations of Poe's poems, but show a connection to them.

The Eye, Like a Strange Balloon Moves Towards Infinity, plate one from To Edgar Poe, 1882

Lithograph in black on ivory China paper, laid down on white wove paper


In the Spheres (The Breath Which Leads Living Creatures is also in the Spheres), plate five from To Edgar Poe, 1882

Lithograph in black on ivory China paper, laid down on white wove paper


"My drawings inspire and do not define themselves.  They determine nothing.  They place us just as music does in the ambiguous world of the indeterminate." 



After 1900, he stopped the production of his noirs and his artistic style took a turn towards exclusively pastel and oils.  Subjects of his later works focused more on Hindu and Buddhist religion/culture, landscapes, and portraits. 

The Buddha, 1905, Pastel

This pastel showcases Redon's interest in Buddhist culture and takes a dramatic turn from his black and white noirs as this work is quite colorful and the subject matter is less eerie.

Woman with Wild Flowers, 1895-98, charcoal and pastel on paper

This is another portrait, this time of a woman.  This woman bears a resemblance to Redon's wife, Camille, who was a large inspiration for his female subjects, however, Redon never explicitly shares the identity of the woman in the work. 

Paul Gauguin, 1903-05, oil on canvas

This is a portrait of the French painter Gaugin, however, it is after Gaugin's death and entirely from Redon's memory.  This painting shows that even though the subject was a real person, Redon still uses his imagination to create a work that is more surreal than it is real.    

 I chose Redon because his bizarre works really stood out to me.  He has a distinct style that makes him extremely unique and different from the traditional artists that I have learned about in past art classes.  Personally, his noirs are my favorite because they are more mysterious and I like how he only used tones of black.  They truly contain subjects that could only come from one's own imagination and have an eerie feeling to them which make you want to speculate the story behind them.  His paintings are still enjoyable to look at, but they don't stand out to me as much stylistically as his charcoal drawings do.   




References:


“Bertrand-Jean Redon.” Odilon Redon - The Complete Works, www.odilon-redon.org/.

“The Eye, Like a Strange Balloon Moves Towards Infinity, Plate One from To Edgar Poe.” The Art Institute of Chicago, www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/79332?search_no=9&index=89.

Hobbs, Richard. “Redon, Odilon (Bertrand-Jean).” Oxford Art Online [Oxford UP], 2003, doi-org.proxy.lib.duke.edu/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T071074.

“In the Spheres (The Breath Which Leads Living Creatures Is Also in the Spheres), Plate Five from To Edgar Poe.” The Art Institute of Chicago, www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/79338?search_no=9&index=88.

“Odilon Redon Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, www.theartstory.org/artist-redon-odilon-artworks.htm.

Paul Gauguin by REDON, Odilon, www.wga.hu/html_m/r/redon/gauguin.html.

Redon, Odilon. “The Buddha.” Web Gallery of Art, www.wga.hu/art/r/redon/buddha.jpg.

Redon, Odilon. “Guardian Spirit of the Waters.” The Art Institute of Chicago, www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/90316?search_no=4&index=33.

Redon, Odilon. I Am the First Consciousness of Chaos: the Black Album. Solar Books, 2010.

Redon, Odilon. “Odilon Redon. The Eye like a Strange Balloon Mounts toward Infinity (L'Œil, Comme Un Ballon Bizarre Se Dirige Vers L'infini). 1882 | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art, www.moma.org/collection/works/68055.

“Redon, Odilon.” Oxford Art Online [Oxford UP], 31 Oct. 2011, doi-org.proxy.lib.duke.edu/10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00149876.

Redon, Odilon. “Strange Flower (Little Sister of the Poor).” The Art Institute of Chicago, www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/90326?search_no=15&index=34.

Woman with Wild Flowers by REDON, Odilon, www.wga.hu/html_m/r/redon/flowers.html.

Ai Weiwei; by Kora Kwok

Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957. He is a Chinese artist and activist, whose diverse work includes sculptural installations, architecture, photography, and filmography. Due to his criticism of the Chinese government and the subversive nature of his art, Ai Weiwei has faced strong backlash from the Chinese authorities.   

Weiwei was interested in art as a child, and enrolled at the Beijing Film Academy in 1978. However, he felt restricted by his life in China, and moved to New York City in 1981, where he spent the next 12 years. There, he attended Parsons School of Design and became an active participant in the city’s subculture of artists and intellectuals. Ai’s time in the States was extremely important towards his personal development; it allowed him to live independently and liberally – as he said himself, he “enjoyed spiritual freedom there” ("Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei," 38).

Descending Light – initial sketch and final product
Descending Light (2017)
Medium: brass, crystal, and electric bulbs

Although Ai started with painting, he began transitioning towards sculptural/physical installations over the next few years; among his inspirations were the German sculptor Joseph Beuys and French artist Marcel Duchamp.

When Ai returned to China in 1993, China had become significantly more modernized. Inspired by the relationship between China’s economic progress and the country’s cultural roots, Ai created pieces that combined traditional aspects of China with modern features – such as a coca cola logo painted onto a Han dynasty urn. In 1999, Ai transitioned to architecture – founding a design firm FAKE geared towards projects involving commonplace materials.

Coca Cola Vase (2011)
Medium: Acrylic on Han dynasty vase

Ai’s most famous works involve large-scale installations with some form of message behind them, often political. These installations typically involve large numbers of everyday objects, assembled to form some larger structure. For example, after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, where thousands of children died due to poor construction, Ai created Remembering (2009) – a Munich installation where 9,000 backpacks were arranged to form a quote from a victim’s mother. Another example is in 2016, when Ai put up 14,000 life jackets around the Konzerthaus Berlin concert hall to commemorate the refugees of the Syrian Civil War.

Installation of 14,000 life jackets at the Konzerthaus Berlin
Konzerthaus Berlin concert hall, 2016


I chose Ai Weiwei because I respect his work and his mission. He once said in an interview that anything with the power to change the world is art – and if that statement is true, he is the epitome of an artist. Ai brings attention to important global issues through his work, and I find that extremely admirable, especially given the oppression he faces in China for choosing to speak up.


Works Cited

“Ai Weiwei Drifting - art, awareness and the refugee crisis | DW Documentary.” YouTube. Uploaded by DW Documentary, June 21, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MkcTI00_uw.

"Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei." National Gallery of Victoria. New Haven, 2015.

Cunningham, John M. "Ai Weiwei." Encyclopedia Britannica, January 2018. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ai-Weiwei. Accessed February 24, 2018.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Odd Nerdrum (by Yixin Lin)

Odd Nerdrum is a controversial Norwegian kitsch painter who previously served time in prison for tax evasion. Born in Sweden in 1944, he largely taught himself Renaissance painting but used his masterful but dated technique in support of social commentary.




Running Bride, 2007.
Oil on canvas, 22 x 19 x 2 inches.
Image: Courtesy of Booth Gallery, New York.

Ever the provocateur, he wrote the famous manifesto On Kitsch, which spawned a whole movement rejecting the term "artist" in favor of "kitsch painter." Adherents of this movement use Old Masters (pre-1800) style technique but for emotionally provocative imagery, and declare kitsch as an independent entity from art, reflecting Nerdrum's dissatisfaction with the direction of modern art.


Twins with Knives, 1991.
Oil on canvas, 28 x 46 in.
Image: Courtesy of Wiki Art.
His art is characterized by Rembrandt-esque technical mastery with exciting, emotionally-laden imagery. The style and technique evokes the stolid, relatively traditional world of the Old Masters, but the subject matter often uses contemporary references and allusions; this mismatch of eras, borne out of Nerdrum's distaste for the direction of modern art, creates a unique atmosphere.



Infant, 1982.
Oil on canvas, 21 1/4 x 29 1/2 in.
Image: Courtsey of Fine Art America.
In 2011, he was convicted of tax evasion and (after a series of appeals) spent a year in prison, during which time he could not paint as that is considered "business activity" due to his profession, which is not permitted in Norwegian prison.

Odd Nerdrum in Norwegian court. Image from Widewalls.ch.
I was inspired to write about this fascinating artist not only due to his odd name, which immediately grabbed my attention on the shelves of Lilly Library, but his interesting backstory which paints a picture a revolutionary and outcast as well as an "artist" (though he himself would prefer the term "kitsch-painter"). His defiance of traditional art norms (as well as societal norms) and his time in prison serve to accentuate his incredibly provocative art which blends modern commentary with olden-days style.

Works Cited
Berglund, Nina. “Artist Can't Paint in Prison.” Artist Can’t Paint in Prison, Norways News in English, 11 Aug. 2011, www.newsinenglish.no/2011/08/19/artist-cant-paint-in-prison/.

Nerdrum, Odd, and Bjørn Li. Odd Nerdrum: Themes: Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculptures. Press Publishing, 2007.

Nerdrum, Odd. “The Kiss, 2002 - Odd Nerdrum.” Www.wikiart.org, 1 Jan. 1970, www.wikiart.org/en/odd-nerdrum/the-kiss-2002.

Pereira, Lorenzo. “Odd Nerdrum Summoned to Prison - NYC Exhibition Attendance Cancelled.” Odd Nerdrum Summoned to Prison - NYC Exhibition Attendance Cancelled, Widewalls, 21 Apr. 2016, www.widewalls.ch/odd-nerdrum-prison/.

Richard, Vine. Odd Nerdrum: Paintings, Sketches, and Drawings. Gyldendal, 2002.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Edward Hopper (by Sofia Zymnis)




Edward Hopper was born in 1882 in New York, and was a painter, printmaker and illustrator. He grew up in a town near the Hudson River, where he developed his love for nature. Although Hopper is now world-famous for his paintings, his career in art initially begun with illustration, as his parents urged him to pursue a career that was more stable than fine arts. He studied illustration in the Correspondence School of Illustrating in New York until 1900 and then at the New York School of Art until 1906.    

Date: 1929
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 29 1/2 x 43 1/4 in. (74.9 x 109.9 cm)

After that he begun working in an advertising agency and later visited Europe, where he was influenced by the numerous visits to museums, and that’s where he produced many paintings en plein air. His first exhibition was held in March 1908 in New York and was formed as a protest against the conservative standards set by the National Academy. Hopper’s works often effuse a feeling of loneliness and detachment and are often considered to be in the realm of Realism.

Date: 1953
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 28 x 40 in. (71.1 x 101.6 cm)

Hopper's career in illustration had a clear impact on his style of painting, influenced by his teachers such as Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller. These artist perpetuated a figurative tradition, taught concepts of design and composition and emphasized the importance of art immerced in life. After his illustrative career, Hopper developed an aversion towards it and this chose to focus mostly in architecture, texture, and light. One of his main goals was to elevate the particular into the epic, through making his art poetic and lyrical. Although Hopper is well known for his paintings, I was able to find numerous of his sketches and drawings, which he used as preperation for his paintings.





Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942.
Fabricated chalk and charcoal on paper; 11 1/8 x 15 in

Nighthawks1942
Oil on canvas
84.1 x 152.4 cm (33 1/8 x 60 in.)

Hopper was a prolific sketcher, as he kept numerous of his drawings, most of which are now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Although many of Hopper's critics would point out Hopper's paintings as being awkward and lacking skill, his sketches show the artist's mastering of visual expression through the medium of drawing. 



Standing Female Nude with Arm Behind Back, Rear View, 1920–25.
Fabricated chalk on paper, 22 x 15 in. (55.9 x 38.1 cm).





Hopper, House and Road, ca. 1940/45, charcoal on bond inch


The reason why I particularly  like this artist is due to the loneliness and calmeness that the artworks effuse. I also particularly like voyeuristic nature many of his artworks, making the viewer feel as if they are watching a scene which they are not supposed to. He inserts the viewer in a seemingly intimate scene, making the viewer aware that they are in a way 'intruding', but nontheless immersing the viewer fully into the scene. In this way he creates a paradox of intimacy and intrusion, which render his artworks truly unique. 





Works Cited



“Edward Hopper.” Art Institute Chicago, 2013, www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111628.

“Edward Hopper | Artist | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018, www.metmuseum.org/toah/artist/edward-hopper/.

Foster, Carter E. “Edward Hopper’s Drawings.” The Hopkins Review, vol. 7, ser. 2, 2014, pp. 206–226. 2.

Hopper, Edward. “Six Drawings.” Harvard Review, no. 29, 2005, pp. 102–107.

Levin, G. (2003). Hopper, Edward. Grove Art Online. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2018, from http://www.oxfordartonline.com.proxy.lib.duke.edu/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000038913.







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