Sadly, I have never attended a Edward Hopper exhibition, there was one in London in 2004, but I couldn’t make it, few shows have reached higher visitor numbers at Tate Modern. Hooper’s draw for me was his unique ability to exquisitely paint urban experiences of loneliness, separation and distance with such clarity and intelligence. One that touches me, perhaps more than others in his work, is entitled Automat. This word in American refers to self-service restaurants, where diners would collect their meals from vending machines, the establishments did not employ waiters or waitresses. Once a customer collected their meal, they would sit with it, generally alone. It makes the absolute perfect location for a Hooper painting.
Automat consists of a painting of a young lady in New York, within one of these cafe’s. She appears to be about to take a sip of coffee. She is wearing outdoor clothing, her coat with fur around the collar signifies the time of year, and she has positioned herself close to a radiator for further warmth. She keeps one gloved hand, whilst the other is bare, she wraps it around her coffee cup. Behind her, there’s a shelf and upon it is a bowl overflowing with fruit. Why would Hopper place this in the frame? This is where his genius ability goes further, in 1920’s New York, out of season fruit was not available. By placing it there ‘Hooper is inviting us to think symbolically. He is asking us to consider how the luscious, rounded forms in the bowl correspond with what Freud called ‘the larger hemispheres of the female body’.
Walter Wells, an American academic wrote the remarkable book entitled Silent Theater – The Art of Edward Hopper. It is a must have if you are a Hooper fan and even perhaps, if you are not. Wells delves further into Automat in his book and explains ‘the young woman’s coat is green (the colour of innocence), unbuttoned and open, and we can see that she is wearing a red garment (the colour of passion) underneath. Her neckline is low and her skirt has risen to reveal a pair of shapely legs. These erotic elements alert us to what she might be thinking. Above her head, the reflected ceiling lights of the Automat recede into darkness; they resemble the ‘thought bubbles’ of a cartoon strip. There are two lines of these bubbles, which means she must be in two minds. Will she? Won’t she? The chair that she faces is conspicuously empty. She struggles to resolve a dilemma without companionship or support. Her aloneness is amplified by the infinite nothingness outside, which is mitigated only in part by the double row of reflected lights. Angular bannisters, just visible, suggest a descending staircase. It appears to be the only means by which she can leave. Like all of us, she has limited options…’ Thank you to everyone who has asked after me for the past few weeks, I hope this weeks showcase goes on to explain a little.
If you would like your work to be considered for entry into our weekly Mobile Photography and Art Flickr showcase, please submit it to our dedicated group, here. Alternatively if you’re an Instagram user just tag your images with #theappwhisperer and we’ll pick you up.
Many congratulations to the following artists for being featured this week:
@pao_jhanitsa, @vitormazzeophoto, @bonobostonecreations, @judehank2, @stinevanderloe, @ja_graham, @remnants_captured, @christinemignon, @hakerud73_ed, @fineartbycat, @knut_roeling, @eliza.badoiu, @klimtt, @mitrydate, @rain.is.poetry, @fchristian, @pause.and.breathe, @clau_clara, @deborahmorbetoart, @lyne.nagele, @mduyulmus_stbenoitsb @dinalf, @christineobrienart, @hipstanitaelle, @maurizio.pichi, @lorelie2010, @kwaneee, @christineosobczak, @robertamitchell9675, @marian_rubin_photo, p.a. hamel, Juta Jazz, Rita Colantonio, Fleur Schim, Clint Cline, Judy Wahlberg, Jane Schultz, Oola Cristina, Jun Yamaguchi, Star Greathouse, Susan Detroy, G Billon, Kerry Mitchell, Kathy Clay, Jill Lian, Gianluca Ricoveri, Catherine Caddigan, Michael Beresin, Deborah McMillion, Tomaso Belloni, Marian Rubin, goodcomma.
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