Exhibition Hopping: Hopper Drawing at the Whitney Museum

What was planned to be established last week, is being told this week: Every week, expect a new post about my visit to a gallery or museum. But, I plan my trips to be more oriented toward gallery hopping so I need it to be swayed more toward that. It will be its own new segment titled “Exhibition Hopping”.


This experience of consistent gallery viewing is also new in my life. It’s a habit I’m starting because 1) if my goal is to have my work represented by a gallery, I need to be familiar with the works in galleries and find which ones that fit. 2) I realized I don’t consciously do things or have things in my life for myself that I want or enjoy. So, this is one.

And yeah right now even though I enjoy the being at an exhibition, the time leading up to it is a struggle because it’s foreign to me, this habit. I know eventually going every week will be second nature.

I went to several galleries and exhibitions last week, but am saving it for after this post. My goal is to write a post the same week that I go to an exhibition. And I’ve planned my schedule where I go later in the week which means Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

This week Friday I went to the Hopper Drawing exhibition. I thought it was called Hopper’s Drawing but it’s listed as the former on the Whitney Museum site. I saw the ad for it in the summer, and since then had seen it occasionally. Friday, when deciding where to go, I found out from NY Art Beat that it was ending in 9 days. So the decision was made. Friday is pay-as-you-wish at the Whitney from 6-9pm which means the line was literally around the block to get in. While I haven’t been to the Whitney in three years, and a guy behind me asked his friend if the line is usually this long, I’m going to say that on a pay-as-you-wish day, I think it’s to be expected. But, the crowd moved quickly and after getting my ticket I went to the 3rd floor.

The Hopper Drawing exhibition for those who don’t know is for Edward Hopper(a very famous artist of the 20th century)’s large amount of drawings and preparation sketches for his paintings. But, for those who thought they’d only get to see his drawings, his paintings are also on view! As I walked through the rooms that became a beautiful surprise.

Hopper Drawing Exhibition

Hopper actually created both the drawing and built the easel
Hopper actually created both the drawing and built the easel

I knew very little about Hopper before this viewing. I know that the common remarks was that he drew these ordinary people, and ordinary settings. The people seemed to have a lot going on in their mind, they weren’t jovial, they were solitary. Even in his most famous painting “Nighthawks”, that has a couple of people, they are still not in good spirits. These are people who are awake when the town is asleep. There is a loneliness, something very human and relatable in his work.

So, I knew about that, “Nighthawks” and that gas station painting “Gas”. I didn’t know how he died, what he did in life, or where he lived.

Some things I know now:
Edward Hopper lived in New York, specifically Washington Square. He stayed in the same apartment there with his wife Josephine, from the time he moved in to his death. Before fully supporting himself on his paintings, he was an illustrator, and if you see the work he did around that period of 1906 it is commercial, much more pen and ink and almost seems like another artist. But they are lovely, and I really enjoy his watercolor.

But, I still don’t know why he drew the types of paintings he is most famous for: the solitude, the people alone, the setting alone.

Edward Hopper Drawing
Edward Hopper Drawing

Edward Hopper Exhibition

His working process is so different from mine. He was patient about his work, spending days, weeks, months planning one painting. Hopper liked to draw drawing after drawing of how he wanted the final painting to look, he did it in steps, sometimes starting very loosely, and with paper after paper getting more specific and descriptive. There are sketches at the Whitney that show how he even wrote down the colors he would use on each part. These sketches allude to him not owning or using a camera to create his work, and if you’ve seen a Hopper painting you know it’s stuff you can find in nature rather than in the imagination.

Exhibition

Hopper Exhibition

I didn’t take a photo of the painting being referenced below as I wasn’t very fond of it but this text the museum applied on its walls is a descriptive look at Hopper’s process when creating his paintings. The title is the same as the painting so search for it if you want:

Edward Hopper Exhibition

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and was impressed with how Hopper creates light in both his paintings and charcoal drawings especially. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of his oils though as they tend to be very fuzzy looking instead of clear drawn lines. But, I love the theme of being alone, of being human, or ordinary life that we find in his work. The experience of viewing his work was highlighted by seeing Nighthawks in person. Nighthawks is just one of those paintings we all know, and to get to see it in person was such a moment for me, highlighted more because I wasn’t expecting to see paintings.

I don’t have any great pictures of it, but have these below because I wanted to take in where I was, the actual experience of seeing it in person then take photos of it. So, I backed away to take it in.

Nighthawks Hopper Drawing

This visit has inspired me to go see more exhibitions put on for artists of the 20th century. I know I’ll tackle Magritte at the MOMA soon.

Go! See!

Happy Sunday.