American, b.1882 – d.1967
Place of Birth: New York, U.S.A.
Place of Death: New York, U.S.A.
Movement: Modern Art, Realism
Early life and Career
Edward Hopper was born into a middle-class family in 1882. Hopper’s family was encouraging of his artwork and did not mind that he wante d to pursue a career in the arts. Between 1900 and 1906, Hopper studied at the New York School of Art, it was during this time that he moved towards fine art instead of restricting himself to illustrations. After finishing his studies, Hopper worked as an illustrator briefly before leaving America to travel around Europe. Hopper was particularly mesmerised by Paris, its architecture, art movement and the way the light caught the city. These themes were a major inspiration for Hopper throughout his life.
During his time in Europe, Hopper’s art was influenced by the Impressionist movement, and the influence of artists such as Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet was visible in his work. After spending four years in Europe, Hopper returned to America in 1910. He struggled to be recognized within the New York art circuit. While he focused on oil paintings during this time, his etchings and mural work were selling more frequently than his oil canvases.
Hopper’s early years as an artist were frustrating. Although he had gained some recognition, he was not able to garner the successes that he hoped for.
When he was nearly 40 years old, Hopper received his first invitation to put up a solo exhibition. Sixteen pieces of his work were shown at the Whitney Studio club. Although none of Hopper’s works sold, this was a new lease of life for his career as an artist, as it presented his artworks before the public.
After his first exhibition, Hopper started to sell more frequently. This led to his second solo exhibition where he showed some works at the Frank K.M. Rehn Gallery in New York City. This exhibition was well received by the public and drew much larger crowds than his first exhibition.
Hopper depicted snippets of American life such as scenes from motels, gas stations, street life and theatres. He also liked to paint landscapes and cityscapes, that became part of his body of work. Hopper worked with various mediums from oil and watercolours to pencil sketches and etchings. This gave him a wide range to explore light and texture. After the 1930s, Hopper’s style was recognized and appreciated, and his work received well. Many commended him for his distinctive style and his portrayal of American life.
In 1923, Hopper married Josephine Nivison, a fellow artist and alumnus of the New York Academy. Nivison posed for more than half of Hopper’s female figurines that he did during his life. Hopper and his wife had very different personalities. Nivison was open and outgoing, while Hopper was shy and conservative. Nivison’s personality however pushed Hopper to try different things. Nivison was also very meticulous and she kept records of all of Hopper’s work, including their sales and prices.
Hopper found massive commercial success only late in his career. For a 20-year period between the 1930s and 1950s Hopper and his wife would visit Cape Code in Massachusetts. Scenes from their travels and sites that they visited became part of Hopper’s work during this period. Hopper also started to travel to various places within the U.S. to gain inspiration.
Later in his career Hopper’s work was exhibited extensively, including at the Whitney Museum in New York. However with the growth and success of the abstract movement, Hopper began to lose critical acclaim in the 1940s and 50s.
He passed away in 1967 at his studio in Washington Square in New York City. His wife who died soon after, donated their joint works to the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Date of Birth: July 22, 1882
Alma Mater: New York School of Art, New York
Works Exhibited at:
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Tate Modern, London