Posts Tagged ‘alienation’


The Indianapolis Museum of Art (“Newfields’) reopened on July 17th with an exhibit about Edward Hopper.

I am glad the curators included some of his drawings because they present the most lively work in this show.

The above drawing is dated in the 1950’s.  It may have been a study for the painting “People in the Sun,” 1960.

What fascinates me is that the drawing is lively and energetic, while the painting is, well, dead.

Hopper’s mind as he contemplated a man in a lawn chair looking over a desolate landscape was nevertheless agitated. We don’t know by what–memories or necessary imminent decisions or shocking insights.  It’s an agitated drawing scribbled out in a frenzy of concentration, took maybe all of five minutes.

But the painting looks like sheer drudgery, as if he just wanted to get it done and be finished with it.


If the artist intended to satirize the alienation of modern life,  he failed.  I think, the image fails as satire because it lacks wit.

We instantly recognize it as a Hopper because human forms are part of the geometry of the composition.

Let that be my introduction to Edward Hopper at the IMA.  You can tell that I have issues with this show and with the interpretation of this artist.

So far we have some key concepts: agitation, alienation, drudgery, modern life, geometry, human form,  satire and wit.

Stay tuned.


All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.





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The model for this charcoal drawing was an old photo, probably 13CynthiaBridalBoldPhototaken in the 1920’s. Cynthia worked from the well-preserved, 7” high oval original.

The emotions that inevitably accompany family photos can serve either a) as fuel to keep you working at the drawing or b) they can get in the way and overwhelm you.  The class was divided along that line about half and half.

One of the people whose work was fueled by the emotions emanating from these oldies was Cynthia, who produced this strong drawing. The couple is handsome, but the artist did not glamorize them.  It’s their wedding photo, but she did not sentimentalize them.


There are three elements in this drawing, as in the photo:  man, woman and bouquet. Notice that the flowers are worked out in greater detail than the people. The outer half of the man’s face is not attended to at all. The woman’s face is asymmetrical, problematic and suggestive of


complexity.There’s a dark objectivity here, alienation even, reminiscent of the faces by Matisse and Picasso.  This is good.  Staying away from the pretty and the flattering and allowing yourself to drift into irony and alienation is good because it makes you think.  Cynthia’s drawing comes out of a modern sensibility: it roughs you up a bit, because it avoids the clichés about weddings, happiness and destiny.

13CynthiaBridalBoldFlowers The drawing as a whole, showing the bride, groom and the flowers,  sets up all sorts of tensions.  The drawing is so strong that each of the three elements (man, women, bouquet) can also stand on its own. I’m showing these individually because each deserves close study. After looking closely, go back to look at the whole drawing, shown at the very top.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.




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