Edward Hopper (1882-1967)'s work is known for its deceptive simplicity, its comic-book-like obviousness. Each one is a concentrate of the hypothetical knowledge and dreams conjured up by the fabulous name of America. Whether they express deep poignancy or explore figments of the imagination, these paintings have been interpreted in the most contradictory ways. A romantic, realist, symbolist and even formalist, Hopper has been enrolled under every possible banner. The exhibition at the Grand Palais seeks to shed light on this complexity, which is an indication of the richness of Hopper's oeuvre.
Curated by Didier Ottinger, the exhibition is divided into parts in chronological order. The first section covers Hopper's formative years (1900-1924), and includes possible influences on his work, from that of his peers to the works he saw during his stint in Paris, which is said to have had a profound effect on Hopper. The second part of the show explores the work Hopper produced in his later years, from the first paintings emblematic of his personal style - House by the Railroad - (1924), to his last works (Two Comedians -1966).
The complexity of Hopper's oeuvre puts it at the intersection of the two historical definitions of American modernity: one derived from the Ashcan School which claimed the Baudelairian principle of modernity linked to the subject, and the other taken from the lessons of the Armory Show which, in 1913, revealed the formalism of European avant-gardes (cubism and cubist futurism) to the American public. In the fifties, the surreal strangeness, and metaphysical dimension of Hopper's painting led to comparisons with De Chirico. At the same time, in the columns of the magazine Reality, the painter joined American realist artists in denouncing abstract art, which, in their view, was submerging collections and museums.
The exhibition will run from 10 October through to 28 January 2013 at the Grand Palais in Paris.
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