Hoppering into a New Decade
Visiting the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Grand Palais was a perfect way to celebrate my 60th birthday. Order your tickets in advance, otherwise, plan on standing on line to enter as it’s sure to be one of this year’s most visited exhibitions.
As we worked our way through Hopper’s life as an artist, as illustrated by his works, we came across a painting done in 1913 of West 4th Street by John French Sloan, who was a fellow painter of Hopper’s at the Ash Can School in New York. In the painting, both my daughter and I recognized the buildings along West 4th and a rendition of the building in which she lives at the far back left. Hopper’s work is punctuated by those around him who influenced his style, Sloan having been one of them.
Hopper made three trips to Paris and other parts of Europe in his early career, “ostensibly to study the emerging art scene there.” It is reported he studied alone and that after, he never returned, although it influenced him for a long time. He was well read in French literature, could quote Verlaine and said of America, that “it seemed awfully crude and raw when I got back. It took me ten years to get over Europe.”
Hopper’s paintings are rich in loneliness and isolation. It is evident as one moves from one canvas to another that he lived in a world where there was little human interaction. Even the titles of his works do not note any human presence, although most do have at least one lone figure…such as: The Mansard Roof, Chop Suey, Sun in an Empty Room, Morning Sun, Summertime or Room in Brooklyn.
The House by theRailroad may look familiar to movie fans, as it was the foundation for Hitchcock’s house in “Psycho.” Hopper’s reaction (according to one account) from the New York Evening Post: “The Hoppers, as true film aficionados, were delighted to learn that Alfred Hitchcock credited the idea for the house in his film Psycho to looking at House by the Railroad…Later that summer Hopper told Clancy that Jo had written about this to Stephen Clark, who had donated the painting to the Museum of Modern Art, ‘as Hitchcock has said The House by the Railroad was the foundation for the weird house that was part of the film.'”
After reflecting on the exhibit, we shared the last of Au Bon Panneton’s Tarte au Chocolat left from the previous evening’s party — which I have always believed is the best in Paris (105, rue Saint-Charles, at the corner of rue de l’Eglise, 15th, 01.40.59.84.70).
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. I’ve spent every birthday in Paris since turning 30, with the exception of one — when my father died on October 13, 1987 in New Orleans, and instead of a birthday, we had a funeral. But it helps me remember him with extra love. A special thanks to all who came to Paris to help celebrate, to all who sent birthday wishes via Facebook and email, to everyone who has enriched my life over the last sixty years and to becoming the ripe old age of the big Six-O with so much more with which to look forward to right here in the City of Light.