Book Report: Edward Hopper: A Modern Master by Ita G. Berkow (2006)

Book coverI saw someone–perhaps the Ace of Spades Midmorning Art Thread–mention Edward Hopper. Of course, I knew about “The Nighthawks”, which the particular post mentioned. So when I got a chance to pick up this book at Hooked on Books, I did.

The book mixes biographical text with large renderings of the paintings as well as some detailed close-ups. It definitely uses the page effectively; some books have fairly large margins and tiny reproductions of the art, but this book really illustrates how to do a monograph. Of course, it is from the 21st century. Clearly, printing has improved since the 1970s and 1980s, when a lot of the monographs I review were published.

The author of this book talks about how grim and isolated, how despondent the people in the paintings are, and he lays out a good argument for that, but I think the scenes are not quite as bleak as the author would have us believe. They’re scenes of working people, often urban or newly developed areas, and they depict not portraits but moments in time in the urban landscapes and in the peoples’ lives. The almost impressionistic blurring of the lines works well, and this author indicates that Hopper might have influenced Noir cinema instead of vice versa.

So I liked the book. Of course, I live in the country now, so city living is but a memory, which might be why I like the gauzy focus urban paintings–paintings from a time way past when I lived in the city, but how I imagined myself in that city even as I lived there and even now.

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