I write this from a hotel room in
Massachusetts, sitting and thinking about the past three days I
have spent driving around looking for a location that feels like
it is nondescript but is very particular. In other words, I have
been searching for a sense of the American landscape that is linked
intrinsically to Edward Hopper’s vision.
Hopper has been profoundly influential to me as
an artist. Emerging from a distinctly American tradition, Hopper’s
work deals with ideas of beauty, sadness, alienation, and desire.
I think it is now virtually impossible to read America visually
without referring back to the archive of visual images created
by artists who found inspiration in Hopper’s paintings. His
art has shaped the essential themes and interests in the work of
so many contemporary painters, writers, and, above all, photographers
His narratives occur in moments that are forever
suspended between “before” and “after”–elliptical,
impregnated moments that never really resolve themselves. There
is a deep reservoir of psychological anxieties in his work, a sense
of stories repressed beneath the calm surface. For me, his use
of light makes his paintings feel more psychologically based. In
these very ordinary situations, the light reveals the story and
serves as a narrative code. It provides some possibility of transformation,
giving the paintings a particular theatricality.
Hopper depicts a world that is at the same time
beautiful and sad, familiar and strange, inviting yet ultimately
inaccessible. I think these polarities are at the center of his
work and may indicate why so many artists, including myself, are
drawn to it, again and again.