Edward Hopper and Mark Rothko

At the Art Institute, when I came upon the place where Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks usually resides, I saw instead a small photo and a sign announcing Nighthawks was travelling to Boston, where it would be part of a comprehensive show of Hopper’s work at the Museum of Fine Arts from 6 May to 19 August. Holland Cotter today in the New York Times takes issue with the show’s being billed as a retrospective, since it lacks many drawings, some signature works, and any examples of Hopper’s work as an illustrator. Indeed, it’s odd that the show has neither title nor theme and is simply called Edward Hopper. We at The Artist’s Magazine have been thinking a lot about Hopper, since his Second Story Sunlight will be on the cover of our July-August issue. Managing Editor Chris McHugh deftly negotiated with the Whitney Museum of American Art to secure permission; curators were justifiably worried that we’d jeopardize the picture’s integrity with cover lines, but when Senior Art Director Daniel Pessell submitted his elegant, austere design to the Whitney for approval,  the curators said Yes.

In a fascinating article upcoming in the July-August issue (on sale on newsstands June 12th) Sheila Hollihan Elliot breaks down Hopper’s creative process by focussing on three signature works. Hopper transmuted what he saw, playing with elements of composition until he’d discovered the precise ratio of radiance and shadow. Today, in the Times, too, I saw Sotheby’s  announcement that one of Mark Rothko’s most gorgeous works (fields of rose, yellow, red with bands of black and also of white) was for sale. Rothko’s soul was tortured; whenever I see a photo of him, I wince, but even in front of his most painful, darkest works, I feel a quiet elation.

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