Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Return of the Art Geek

I'm keeping up my newfound tradition of living my weekends like I'm a rock star. This time, however, I decided to add a cultural element to the replay of last weekend's shenanigans by going to a couple of art exhibits on Saturday.

I had heard good things about the Edward Hopper exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, and I thought, hey, what better way to shake off a Diet Coke hangover than go to a museum? Are you folks familiar with Hopper? Like me, you've probably seen The Nighthawks before but maybe haven't delved into his work. But damn, kids, this dude is good. Like really good.

The Nighthawks

I got my undergraduate degree in Humanities, so looking at art and throwing out intelligent sounding critiques is sort of my forte. Or at least it was. I haven't been so great about keeping up my art know-how. But there's something about looking at great art that really makes me wax sentimental and want to use phrases like "steeped in allegory" and "chiaroscuro" and "pointillism".

The question is, do you care about what I thought about Hopper's art? I doubt it. I'll most likely end up sounding like a pretentious windbag. Which, of course, I am. I just like to hide it behind silly jokes and thinly veiled mockery. But I'm not here only to entertain, when possible I should also try to educate. So here are 5 things I think you should know about Hopper. Commence windbagginess!

  1. Hopper liked to depict voyeuristic scenes. Like scenes through windows or from trains. Voyeurism makes for great art.
  2. He really knows how to work a vertical line to give life to his pictures. His paintings are littered with chimneys, barbershop poles, telephone poles, and masts. No where else is a rooftop full of chimneys quite so interesting.
  3. Many of his scenes are quiet, private moments. There is a real sense of isolation. Almost as if you are seeing something you aren't supposed to see.
  4. He is a master of geometric shapes and strong color fields.
  5. This dude uses white paint like a BADASS!

See these? Check out all of that white paint! Can't say that I've ever admired white paint quite this much before. And those geometric shapes, vertical lines, and color fields?? Genius! So spare, so intimate, but still engaging and provocative.

Don't see what the fuss is about? Don't worry, it doesn't make you any less of a person. It just makes you less interesting. No biggie.

If you want to see a nice slide show of Hopper's work, you can check out this really cool site that the National Gallery of Art set up for the exhibit. If you aren't a fan after going here, well, there's really no helping you. Is there?


lael said...

My two cents:

1) I thought the way he framed scenes, expecially lanscapes, was interesting. If anybody took a photograph of rooftops or a lighthouse and framed it the way he did in his paintings, you would think the person was a real ameteur and knew nothing about composition. But his paintings work and are all that more dramatic.
2) You have to see these works in real life!!! I've seen prints of his more well known pieces, but nothing compares to the vivid color of the real McCoy.
3) Ok, so my third cent...Didn't his work remind you of Vermeer's? Light and shadow were executed brilliantly by both these painters in a similar way, I'd say.

Gretchen - did you take a gander at the Turner exhibit?

lael said...

"especially"..."amateur"...jeepers, I have to remember to preview these things!