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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hopper @ Hirshhorn

Went to Hirshhorn Modern Art Museum last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by a few Edward Hopper paintings, including the above "Hotel by a Railroad."

It again struck me with the restrained drama and implied emotional conflicts that always haunt Hopper's urban images. How does he convey, simultaneously, the characters' own isolation and their ambiguous relationship?

The woman's grey hair is a surprising touch that reminds me of Maugham --- She is not a youthful blond having a fling with a balding businessman in a hotel by a railroad. Hopper lifts a corner of the curtain over the mystery of the heart, but his spotlight on the characters (coming from right through the window) conceals as much as it reveals.

A viable exercise, I realized at the moment, would be to write at least one story or sketch on each of Hopper's "urban scenery" painting.

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