Sunday, May 11, 2008

nelson and edward

Edward Hopper's exhibit ended its stay at The Art Institute of Chicago this weekend, but not before the Chicago Tribune ran an article about a feature they did back in 1972, of then-living author Nelson Algren's impressions of several of Hopper's paintings. The Tribune Magazine editor noted how they thought that Algren and Hopper would be a perfect match, like "light and shadow," but Hopper's art proved to be too void of feeling for Algren. As he described in this excerpt:

Hopper worked from the outside in, his concern being with illumination, horizontals and verticals. In short, Hopper was a designer; one who never permitted his own emotion to divert him from the plan on his drawing board. Thus his women are formed less of flesh than by luminosity, shadow and angle.

It seems like while Hopper's urban backdrops and isolated figures paralleled Nelson's own writing, he also needed more personal character or to have the people within the works define the scenes, and not be so mute and faceless. The full article can be found here -- although no matter what Algren wrote, his fiction and Hopper's pictures will probably still be linked together as examples of lost souls of 20th century America, living on society's fringes or caught up in dark thoughts, never quite sure what the morning will bring or whether it will come at all.

(Pictured above: Detail from Edward Hopper's Automat, 1927 - Des Moines Art Center)