"Great art is the outward expression of an inner life of the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.” - Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper (1882 - 1976), born into a middle class family, is known as one of the most important American realist painters. He started his career, after his studies at the NY School of Art, working as an illustrator. First he achieved recognition for his watercolors and etches before museums got interested in his oil paintings. A travel to Paris and getting in contact with the impressionism defined more Edward Hopper's style. His personal vision of modern American life is reflected in his works.
I think we can see in his work also a reflection of his character: an introvert person, with a hint of melancholy. He didn't like to talk about himself, it was his wife promoting his work.
You can find Hopper's loves for theater and movies in a lot of his sketches and paintings. The dark colors are from the period he was studying at the NY art school, influenced by the European classical painters such as Rembrandt. His first oil painting was inspired by the theater: Solitary Figure in a Theater. (c.1904)
It was only after his trip to Europe in 1906 that his color pallet would shift to lighter colors.
I remember I once visited an exhibition of his work in Bruxelles and the room was filled with a kind of solitude, loneliness. His dark color palette brings in a certain drama.
If they all can find inspiration in Hopper's work than we can also take a look how we can translate them in our home. Light fixtures such as big standing lamps will help us to bring the spot light on some corner of the room . Comfortable armchairs in dark red velvet will always make us think of movie theaters. And we can create a more dramatic ambiance by adding some iconic elements. Fornasetti will give us a lot of options for add an interesting view on the wall. And go bold when you add a bar or another small pieces of furniture. Remember it is all show.
Hopper was influenced by the film noir for his choice of lighting, and framing of his scenes. He also in turn influenced directors such as Hitchcock , Wim Wenders and others. Don' t you think there is a lot of resemblance between Hopper's painting, House by the Railroad, with the house in Hitchcock's movie Psycho?
In those paintings you feel the influence of the impressionists. He captured a moment of the day, the cold light in the morning, you can feel the silence, the fresh and crisp air.
His first signed painting Rowboat in Rocky Cove dates from the end of the 19th century. And it shows his interest for nautical subjects, one of the themes he would continue throughout his career. The summers he was spending in Cape Cod where he bought a little house and his studio was overlooking the bay.
Nautical theme is as an evergreen. A perfect choice for a summer house: blue and red paired with crisp white. Some wood elements, taken from the boat, will add warmth and character.
Hopper found his inspiration in nature's rural landscapes, the seaside, and daily American life. Here again we see that he captures the moment. Gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, street views, all with our without people. He very rarely paints more than one person, and when he does than you can feel the interaction of them with their environment. Hopper is very strong in expressing emotions of solitude, loneliness, regret. Did you also notice that when he is painting figures they often have a book in the hands? And when he paints more people you feel the underlaying tension between them.
Green is one of the colors you will find back often in Hopper's color palette. Using green and blue in an interior will give you a colder but distinctive ambiance. Green will bring a stylish note in combination with grey tones and gold. Green is also easier to use in an interior than blue, it is more versatile. It has some yellow in it which will make you room look more sunny and inviting.
In the movie Shirley: Visions of Reality you will see 13 of Hopper's paintings brought alive and telling a part of American histoy in the 30's, 40's, and 50's.
Maybe a lot of artist are inspired by solitude? Take a look at Richard Tushman photogrphs where he recreates Hopper's paintings through photography.
Translating this solitude in a room can work well for somebody who likes to to relax, but for others it can be to cold, it will bring up to much emotions. Light fixtures can add drama to the room, through the design of the lamp or through the way it will light the room or put things in the spot lights. Clean and simple forms, light colors and plain fabrics, simple lines to recreate the interiors.
So how can Edward Hopper inspire us:
- look at his early works for a warn color palet
- take inspiration from his nautical themed paintings for a summer setting
- a cold and crips color harmony for contemporary interior
- look for light fixtures which can put some items in the spot light
- find inspiration for staging a room
Let Hopper inspire you, wish you a great week.