Friday, 24 April 2009

Edward Hopper - House by the Railroad

Edward Hopper, the best-known American realist of the inter-war period, once said: 'The man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing.' This offers a clue to interpreting the work of an artist who was not only intensely private, but who made solitude and introspection important themes in his painting. view full article

From "Techniques of the Great Masters of Art":
"Hopper frequently used a straight. horizontal motif, usually a road or railroad track. to construct the space within the picture and to emphasize the division between the picture space and the viewer's world. Indeed, the more the viewer tries to penetrate the depths of a Hopper painting, the more impenetrable it becomes. What holds the viewer is that the artist's vision seems under control and yet, on closer inspection, the viewer realizes that the visible surface is a tissue of improbabilities and unreadable shifts in space. Hopper's view that nature and the contemporary world were incoherent contributed to his artistic vision.”

“The single focus of the painting is a large gray house in an imported French style. Although Hopper customarily worked from life, he invented this house based on some he came across in New England and others he may have seen on Paris boulevards. This architectural style became fashionable in America during the mid-nineteenth century. Its hallmark is a double-pitched roof pierced with dormer windows that give height and light to the attic level.

Hopper rejected European influences, maintaining that American art should capture the character of the nation. Like Cole and Bierstadt, he expresses the tension between nature and culture. Although railroad tracks are typically associated with the noise, speed, and rapid change of modern life, this scene is curiously still and silent, as if the rush of industrialization has passed it by. Hopper, working in the period between the two world wars, appears to have found little to celebrate in the urbanization of America, which had destroyed its original, pastoral aspect. Here, the railroad track is the color of earth, taking the place of the stream, valley, or farmland that once formed the background of American culture.” From
It is said that the House by the Railroad has been the influence for many famous houses in films…

Noteably, The Bates Motel in Psycho;
Giant with; Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean;
The Addams Family;

If you like lonely old houses, photographer Kevin Bauman has done a project on the subject…


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