Saturday, October 06, 2007

Moon & Hopper

Cudlin has a really excellent review of The National Gallery’s current exhibition on Edward Hopper.

And in this review is where we see where a trained painter can sometimes deliver an insight into a painter's work than an ordinary critic sometimes can't; Cudlin notices that:

There are many subjects that didn’t suit Hopper’s approach to color and form. He was hopeless, for example, with seascapes. His 1922 etching The Cat Boat and a later oil painting, Ground Swell (1939), are half-baked attempts to represent water. In the former, a few thin lines like cramped cursive—little cartoon peaks, really—lamely indicate waves. In the latter, the sea appears to be made of some viscous blue-green substance; the stuff lies in thick furrows, holding both a buoy and a sailboat completely immobile. Only the boat in each picture seems like a decent compilation of specific shapes. Hopper clearly liked that boat but didn’t have many ideas about where to put it...

... His figures, too, were often vague and half-invented. The female nude in Morning in a City (1944) gazes out at a sharply rendered city. But she herself looks like a lumpy troll, as if she wandered out of a painting by modern primitive Henri Rousseau. Hopper typically made studies for his figures but often relied on memory while painting, and proportions could get lost in the shuffle. This woman’s nakedness lacks eroticism, and as a result seems alien, disturbing—as nondescript as Hopper’s trees and waves.
Lumpy troll... that's hilarious!

Elsewhere in the CP, Capps reviews Jiha Moon at Curator's Office. Moon is on my "Buy Now" List.