ARTNews has very nice things to say about Avis Berman’s new book in its Summer 2005 issue:

Surprisingly, this slim volume is the first devoted exclusively to Hopper’s depictions of New York City. Combining more than 50 paintings, watercolors, and etchings with an elegant essay by historian and critic Avis Berman, it sums up both the life of the man and the uniqueness of his work.

One of the mysteries of Hopper’s paintings is why they still seem so contemporary seven decades after he created them. Berman distills the vast number of writings on the artist and clarifies the hallmarks of his vision.

Hopper ignored the city’s soaring skyscrapers, bustling crowds, and architectural icons (he never painted the Brooklyn Bridge or the Empire State, Chrysler, or Flatiron buildings). Instead, his signature New York images, such as Early Sunday Morning (1930) and Nighthawks (1942), are unrelentingly horizontal, intimate, and anonymous. His images deal in spatial and psychological ambiguities–windows that both separate and unite, intrusive angles, unexpected vantage points, glaring sunlight and deep shadow. Hopper, Berman comments, “portrays architectural exteriors and human interiors at the same time.”

Carefully chosen quotes from the artist and earlier writers add to our appreciation of the images. Like her subject, Berman extracts with deceptive simplicity the essence of Hopper’s progression from his early days in Paris to his stark masterpieces of the 1930s and 1940s.


Comments are closed.