Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967) was an American realist painter and printmaker. His work reflects his visions of American modern life.
Hopper descends from a well-off, middle class family with mostly Dutch ancestry. His parents encouraged his art and supplied him with the necessary materials, yet insisted that when he chose an art career he better studied commercial art. He inherited his intellectual tendencies as well as his love for French and Russian culture from his father, while his artistic talent derives from his mother. He admired Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Hopper studied art at the NY Institute of Art and Design. His style shows influences of one of his teachers, William Merritt Chase, and the French Impressionists Manet and Degas. After school he started a part-time job in an advertising company, but fast he learnt to detest illustration. He escaped the job with three trips to Europe where he was mainlyParisbased, but kept himself isolated and didn’t really pick up any European influence, especially not the trend to abstract cubism. He was drawn to realism and a dark palette.
After his return fromEuropehe became a reluctant freelance illustrator, who needed to knock on many doors to find work and who struggled to find himself in his paintings. Friends describe him even as depressed. Though he sold his first painting in the 1913 Armory Show his career didn’t take off for many years to come. It took his wife’s entry into his life and her management abilities to make things happen for him. Yet, even when he finally had managed to built a secure, stable life upon his talent, he remained bitter about the beginning – and that till the end.
He was always a tall, shy, introverted, secretive, quite and conservative man with a gentle sense of humor and frank manners. He had a tendency to accept things as they were and lacked idealism. He was an intellectual, slow, planful and methodical painter. In his work his attention was on geometrical designs and the careful placement of human figures in the composition in proper balance with their environment. He used saturated, dark colors to heighten contrasts and effectively used light and shadow to create mood. His style can be described as simplified realism as he simplified shapes and figures. His subject matter was common features of American life and its inhabitants & seascapes and rural landscapes. His primary themes were solitude, loneliness, regret, boredom, resignation. Something very characteristic about his work is that his figures were positioned as if they were right before or shortly after the climax of a scene.