JO HOPPER – Collaborator and His Wife
Today’s audio is a Wiki Speaks article about Nighthawks (below) Simply put, the article on Wikipedia is being vocalized. It’s interesting and I’ll find out more about it and share as I learn. For today, enjoy learning about Edward Hopper and his wife Jo . They’re similiar to Jackie Jacobson and her husband Al Jacobson. A real team and collaboration.
READ THE ARTICLE and See the Paintings with their sketches
THEN LISTEN TO THE AUDIO/VIDEO (BELOW) for a historical background on Nighthawks.
Edward Hopper art, through his wife’s eyes
Edward Hopper paintings often depict isolation.
But as a new book of his sketches reveals, the artist had an unsung and sometimes waspish collaborator: his wife Jo .
Photo: Whitney Museum of American Art / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel
By Alastair Smart 05 Jul 2013 – Arts Editor – Sunday Telegraph
The past century is littered with the turbulent relationships of artist couples: Picasso and Dora Maar, Pollock and Lee Krasner, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo… It’s often been hard to tell where support ends and competition begins. As interesting as any pairing – if less famous – were Edward Hopper and his headstrong wife, Jo. Both had studied at the New York School of Art, and before their marriage in 1924, it was she who was the more famous. Soon, however, his eerie scenes of isolated people and buildings were a huge success – visions of motels, gas stations and late-night cafeterias that seemed to epitomise modern-day America – and she duly subordinated her career to his.
Nighthawks, 1942 Hopper’s most famous painting. Three customers in a late-night diner are all lost in their thoughts. In the sketch, the densely drawn pen-and-ink lines of the street outside increase our focus on the bright sliver of diner-wall inside. (Whitney Museum of American Art / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel)
For the rest of his life, Jo oversaw their collaboration on a set of ledger books containing small sketches (by him) of each canvas he painted and comments (by her) about the work itself, accompanied by details of its purchase and purchaser.
In many ways, these ledgers – select pages of which are reproduced for the first time alongside the paintings themselves, in a new book – were meant simply as inventories. Yet, they’re also much more: offering insight into many of Edward’s mysterious scenes, as well as a window onto the Hoppers’ fraught but enduring
Cape Cod Afternoon, 1936 A sunny, deceptively simple view of a New England house, shed and barn. Jo alerts us to the scene’s eerie ambivalence, however, stating ‘Door in shed goes in like a tomb’. (Whitney Museum of American Art / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel)
Jo, for instance, tells us that the woman in 1931’s Hotel Room, who I’ve always felt was receiving a letter of bad news, is actually reading a timetable. Sometimes, she delights in her husband’s work (Of the Cape Cod backdrop to Mrs. Scott’s House, she writes “Hills roll for dear life… Glorious!”). At other times she’s critical: “Too much lipstick,” she says of the secretary in Office at Night.
Cape Cod Morning, 1950 According to Jo’s notes, this scene is of a ‘blondish housewife appraising the early AM weather’. Hopper, though, saw things less literally, insisting ‘For me, she’s just looking out the window’. (Whitney Museum of American Art / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel)
Before death took them both in the late Sixties, the couple spent many decades cooped up in a flat overlooking New York’s Washington Square. Marital tensions were revealed in Jo’s diaries, with tales of two-way domestic violence, yet the ledgers in the main reveal warmth: her cataloguing his entire oeuvre with brio and care.
Gas, 1940 (Whitney Museum of American Art / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel)
Final word, though, must go to Hopper’s drawings. He relies on his background as an etcher, using cross-hatches and inking to expressive effect. All were created after the paintings they refer to. But rather than dashed-off afterthoughts, there’s a sense of Hopper revelling in return, part perhaps of the gradual disengagement that this slow, meticulous painter needed from his creations.
BOOK SUGGESTION :
‘Edward Hopper: Paintings and Ledger Book Drawings’, by Adam D Weinberg, is published by Schirmer/Mosel Verlag – 2013