While traveling to visit friends in Connecticut this past weekend I was reminded of one my favorite artists, Edward Hopper, who was widely known for painting New England landscapes. Last year during a summer session class, History of Printmaking, taught by Dr. Christa Irwin, I learned that Edward Hopper first started gaining notoriety as an artist during his (you guessed it) printmaking career. I was familiar with Hopper’s paintings and the themes of his work, but this aspect of his life was new to me, so I chose him as the subject of my final assignment.
As I researched Hopper’s early works as a printmaker, I was struck by how he utilized the same defining elements of his style in his prints as well as his paintings. He showcased strong, graphic contrasts of light and shadow as well as varied quality of line and dramatic vantage points to achieve a certain amount of tension in his scenes. The themes of his work also remained constant, views of interior and exterior spaces either eerily devoid of figures or composed in ways that highlighting the disconnected relationship between people occupying the same place without direct interaction. His style and message transcended medium, and making connections between his pieces was truly an interesting exercise. Seriously, I ended up buying one of the books I used as source material for my research paper because it was THAT GOOD.
Reflecting back on my papers and notes on Hopper, I can easily see why I think of him as someone influential to my growth as an artist. I was first drawn to the almost graphic quality of his contrast within his paintings, be it between bright/dark or interior/exterior, and his masterful use of light to create worlds that seem simultaneously dreamlike and startlingly realistic. The themes Hopper explored in his work, mostly the transitory nature of humanity and feelings of isolation from one’s surroundings, were so brilliantly reflected in the settings he created. Seeing these elements amplified and developed through the medium of printmaking deepened my admiration of his work, and made me want to reach that same level of seamless connection between concept and object in my own practice.
Thanks to Edward Hopper for giving me something to think about on my long ride back home to Pennsylvania. To see some of his work, click here.
Featured Image: Jill Sibio, 2018