Edward Hopper 2007
Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 1636 Bush St., Suite #2, SF, CA 94109; 415-447-9750
Produced by the Department of Exhibition Programs, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Carroll Moore
Directed by Carroll Moore.
DVD, color, 88 min.
Jr. High - Adult
American Studies, Art History, Biography
Date Entered: 11/28/2007Reviewed by Christopher Lewis, American University Library, Washington DC
To the layman Edward Hopper is most widely known for his iconic painting, Nighthawks, which has been reproduced, imitated, alluded to, and parodied widely in art, in print, on film, and even in music and on t-shirts. The power of that painting seems to have overshadowed much of the rest of Hopper’s similarly evocative work. He was a master at depicting a mood in settings that ranged from the bleakness of Depression-era New York to the stark New England seaside. This film, narrated by Steve Martin, was produced by the National Gallery of Art in conjunction with their recent Hopper exhibition and is a welcome addition for those interested in the artist. It covers his career, his work, and his influence on others.
Hopper, born in Nyack, NY in 1882, was a private person who developed a sparse unsentimental painting style, rich in light, shadows, and angles, outside any art movements at the time. Among the influences on his New York scenes were gangster films and film noir. Martin, who recreated Hopper scenes in his film Pennies from Heaven, mentions the influence his images had on filmmakers of the era and on later generations. Unfortunately as Hopper was at the height of his success he was eclipsed by the sudden appearance of another American original, Jackson Pollock. Abstract Expressionism grabbed the attention of the art world and Hopper’s growing popularity and influence were largely curtailed.
Hopper continued to paint, mostly on Cape Cod, always refining his technique, until his death in 1967. The film cites his influence on contemporary artists Eric Fischl, Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, and George Segal.
The production of this video is professional and the narrative is thorough though somewhat generic in style. Surprisingly there is nothing else about Hopper currently on video. It’s been a decade or more since the last documentaries on him, Edward Hopper: The Silent Witness and the Robert Hughes series, American Visions, were released. Without doubt this is highly recommended for libraries that have any representation of the history of American art.