Edward Hopper (1882–1967), Night Shadows

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

Night ShadowsEdward Hopper (1882–1967)
Night Shadows, 1921
Etching on paper, 7 x 8 5⁄16 inches
Hillstrom Museum of Art purchase with endowment acquisition funds and donations from the Reverend Richard L. Hillstrom, Dr. Delphine Hedtke, Ruth and Raymond Reister, The Pearson Art Foundation, Dr. Arnoldus and Joanie Grüter, and Marie Bonse

Hopper studied painting at the New York School of Art with Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876–1952) and Robert Henri (1865–1929). He is now considered one of the most important American artists of the first half of the twentieth century and was the creator of numerous iconic works, including his famous image of a nearly empty diner, Nighthawks (1942). Hopper was also an important etcher. He turned to etching in 1915, seeking technical advice from the consummate printmaker, his friend Martin Lewis (1881– 1962). Over the next eight years, Hopper devoted himself largely to etching, making over sixty such works and establishing himself as a prominent printmaker. His approach was to create works that, though based in reality, transformed that reality into emotionally charged imagery, the strength of which derived from his fine, economical designs. Hopper reveled in strong contrasts of black and light, generally allowing his plates to be very deeply bitten by the acid, and using very black ink to even further strengthen the dark areas of his compositions. He became very adept at rendering mysterious, nocturnal scenes of urban imagery, as in many of his paintings and as in the characteristic image in this print. It’s a typical Hopper vision of urban isolation, a common theme in his work and relating to his experience of New York City, where he spent much of his career. He portrays the lonely man walking down a shadowy street from an oblique angle above, and the shadows cast by the figure or an unseen light pole are as emotionally charged as the more substantial elements of the composition. The drama of the image relates to film noir of the 1930s and 40s, and recent studies have pointed out the influence of Hopper on movie making.

Text from the catalogue for the exhibition The Eight, The Ashcan School, and The American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection, presented in the Hillstrom Museum of Art February 25 through April 21, 2013.

 

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