Hopper Illustrations at the Rockwell

The Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA is much improved since our last visit about 10 years ago. More parking, more attractive landscaping, and best of all, a new building. All to the good.

Crop of an Edward Hopper illustration of Parisian couple chattingWhile it’s always nice to visit with old friends, i.e. Norman Rockwell, the impetus for this visit was the new exhibit — Edward Hopper as Illustrator. The exhibit runs through October 26, 2014. This is a must-see, eye-opener for Hopper fans and students of early 20th century illustration.

If you’re familiar with Hopper, you know he did watercolors and etchings as well as his better-known oils. But you do you know that he spent the first 20 years of his career as an illustrator? Hopper thought of himself as a fine artist from a young age. But his parents convinced him to work as a commercial artist — which he hated — to make a living.

Hopper’s early illustrations, for books, magazine covers and posters, were competent but undistinguished. His later illustrations, enlivened by his developing personal style and interests are exceptional. Still, his commercial illustrations rarely equaled those of his contemporaries. Pyle, Wyeth, Parrish and Rockwell all enjoyed their work and knew it was “art.” Hopper kept fighting it.

The Hopper exhibition at the Rockwell Museum also includes an insightful video.  Altogether, it’s a joy for Hopper fans and a bonus for Rockwell aficionados. Make the trip if you can.

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About Louis J. Bruno

I studied English and psychology at Columbia College and stayed at Columbia, doing postgraduate work in psychophysiology, then teaching and doing research for several years. To keep the wolf from the door, I migrated into retail sales and management, at first for Radio Shack, briefly for Savemart, and finally for Newmark & Lewis. When N&L collapsed, I went into business for myself, providing sales, service, and maintenance of computer systems; designing, hosting, and maintaining websites; providing custom software, mailers, and database services to the real estate industry; and serving as a business consultant. My interests include writing, traveling, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, gardening, photography, history, art, jazz, swing, country and classical music, investing, management theory, civic activism, sustainability, particularly energy conservation, good government, the environment, and technology. And more to come, I hope.

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