Saturday, May 3, 2014

Artist Edward Hopper's sketches of domestic life with his wife, bickering and squabbles included.

It is well known that the 43-year-long marriage between Edward Hopper and Josephine Nivison Hopper was filled with tumult and strife. Edward, a dour, reticent, towering figure, constantly belittled and denigrated his assertive, diminutive wife, who responded with verbal assaults of her own. Hopper drew caricatures to express sour feelings toward his wife Jo, all of which were created from 1933-1952.


The exhibition 'Edward Hopper's Caricatures: At Home with Ed and Jo', on view at the artist's boyhood home in Nyack, New York - now called the Edward Hopper House Art Center - offers visual documentation of the Hoppers' sometimes ansty, occassionally humorous marriage. The 15 small pencil sketches, made between 1933 to '52, were drawn from the collection trust of the late Arthayer R. Sanborn, a family friend.


Rather than express his feelings in words, Edward would often dash off sketches when Jo was out of the room and leave them on the table for her  to find when she returned. In spite of their many shared interested, both Hoppers harbored resentments: Jo because her own artistic career was overshadowed by Edward's, and Edward because he felt Jo was an inadequate wife. The caricatures are one-sided, of course, with Edward portraying himself as the victim of his wife's aggression and alleged failings as a homemaker and mocking of her artistic efforts.


But Edward also executed several watercolors of Jo painting, capturing intimate moments that are sensitive to the subject. Such works are reminders that for all their squabbling, the Hoppers bonded for many years, during which Edward created - with Jo's help as model, muse, record keeper and protector - the masterpieces that have long captured the American imagination.

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