Best known for his paintings that capture moments of reverie and contemplation, Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was also a highly accomplished printmaker. On view in the Museum's Stieglitz Gallery (first floor) from April 9 through July 31, 2005, At the Window: Etchings by Edward Hopper traces the evolution of many of the signature subjects of the artist's mature style, such as the isolated figure by a window and other intimate glimpses of contemporary American life. The exhibition is drawn from the Museum's collection, which constitutes of the most complete holdings of Hopper's prints.
Hopper taught himself how to make etchings in New York City in 1915. For the next ten years, he devoted much of his attention to printmaking before concentrating fully on painting in the mid-1920s. The selection of some fifty works covers this crucial decade in the artist’s creative development. In addition to illustrating the step-by-step process of executing a print, from the preparatory drawing on paper through as many as eight separate revisions on the copper plate, the exhibition reveals the unfolding development of Hopper’s personal artistic vocabulary and vision.
Edward Hopper grew up in Nyack, New York, a small town on the Hudson River. After graduating from high school, the budding artist embarked on a profitable career as a commercial illustrator in Manhattan, studying at the New York School of Art under Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller, and supplying illustrations for Scribner's, Adventure, and other popular magazines. Making etchings offered Hopper an escape from the commercial work that earned him his living and it was as a printmaker that he won his first successes as a fine artist. At the core of Hopper's output as an etcher are 26 published prints, all in the Museum's collection, many of them accompanied by sets of progressive proofs that document the artist's working method.
The exhibition is composed of nine sections. The first focuses on his early efforts, and is followed by groups devoted to the nude, couples, distant views achieved from a variety of perspectives, the lone figure, the sea, series of states, and subjects including the catboat, trains, and isolated houses. Hopper's distinctive style emerges in Night on the El Train (1918), an intimate scene of a couple lost in conversation. A solitary figure gazing out a window appears in Evening Wind and House Tops of 1921 and East Side Interior of 1922. In nocturnal scenes, including Night in the Park (1921), Hopper takes full advantage of the intense contrast of light and shadow that can be achieved with etching by printing with dark ink on white paper. The bright, shadow-casting light of later paintings such as Nighthawks (1940, Chicago; The Art Institute of Chicago) is already evident in Night Shadows, an etching of 1921.
At the Window: Etchings by Edward Hopper was organized by Christa Carroll, the Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow, with John Ittman, Curator of Prints in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. The exhibition was selected from the comprehensive collection of Hopper’s prints assembled in 1962 by Carl Zigrosser, the Museum’s first curator of prints. It offers insights into the heart and mind of one of the most admired American artists of the 20th century.
Housing some 150,000 works of art, the Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is nationally recognized for the breadth and depth of its collections as well as the flair and scholarship of its exhibitions. The Department presents rotating installations of its vast holdings in the Berman and Stieglitz Galleries and the Julien Levy Gallery on the Museum’s ground floor and the Eglin Gallery on the first floor. Individual works are also on view in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries.
EDWARD HOPPER AS PRINTMAKER
Born July 22 in Nyack, New York, son of Garrett Henry Hopper and Elizabeth Griffiths Smith Hopper
Grows up in Nyack, New York, in a house overlooking the Hudson River. As a teenager, forms a sailing club with his friends and builds a catboat, a type of sailboat, with materials provided by his father
Studies commercial illustration at the Correspondence School of Illustrating in New York City
Studies commercial illustration, drawing, and painting at the New York School of Art under Robert Henri, William Merritt Chase, and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Among his classmates are George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Walter Tittle. At the New York School of Art, meets his future wife, Josephine (Jo), who is also a student
Begins a job as a commercial illustrator at C. C. Phillips & Company, New York
In October, leaves on his first trip to Europe. Stays in Paris for nine months and then visits London, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Berlin, and Brussels. Returns to New York in late August 1907 and continues taking jobs making illustrations. Paints in oil during his free time and in the summers
Returns to Paris in May and remains there for three months
In May, visits Paris for the last time. While in Europe, takes trips to Madrid and Toledo
Spends his first summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Moves to 3 Washington Square North on the edge of Greenwich Village, where he lives and works until his death
Takes up etching, receiving basic technical advice from his friend Martin Lewis 1916 Spends his first summer on Monhegan Island in Maine, where he returns for the next few summers
Exhibits etchings for the first time at the Chicago Society of Etchers and at the MacDowell Club in New York
His first solo exhibition is held at the Whitney Studio Club in Greenwich Village, where he shows fifteen oil paintings
Exhibits three etchings at the Whitney Studio Club
Sells his first watercolor to a museum when the Brooklyn Museum purchases Mansard Roof, 1923. Makes his last etchings and begins making watercolors regularly
Marries Jo Nivison
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts becomes the first museum to purchase an oil painting by Hopper (Apartment Houses, 1923).
Makes his last two prints: two drypoints entitled The Balcony (included in this exhibition) and Portrait of Jo