Edward Hopper’s Maine

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Brunswick, Maine

July 15-October 16, 2011.

This is a very special exhibition.  Really.  I visited three times in the first three weeks that it was open, and each time I saw something different in the paintings and drawings on display.  Just when you think you know Edward Hopper—Night Hawks, etc., etc.—someone (like Kevin Salatina, Director of the BCMA) does a show that totally expands your perception and understanding of Hopper’s work. 

 The first room of the exhibition is given over to 30 oil sketches painted by the artist on Monhegan Island between 1916 and 1919.  They are small—averaging about 9”x12” or so, and at first appear almost lost on the walls of the room.  But don’t let physical size deceive you—these are the artist’s concentrated focus on one theme, and the brushwork and range of color in these paintings is a surprise and a delight.  Who knew that Hopper could do this?  On my first visit, I was tempted to rush by these, but later realized that these are perhaps the most amazing part of the show.  Not to discount the Maine watercolors, large-scale drawings, and Maine-themed etchings.  Two of Hopper’s iconic lighthouse paintings are included as well, and are a treat.  The 30-minute video narrated by Steve Martin is not to be missed.

The exhibition catalogue is exquisite, with luscious enlargements of Hopper’s surprising brush and palette knife work, reproductions of many of the works in the show, and 6 excellent essays. 

The show runs through mid-October, and I know that I will be back several more times, and that with each visit, I will discover something new about Edward Hopper, and the Maine landscape that he captured.  For more information, visit the Bowdoin Museum of Art website:  http://www.bowdoin.edu/art-museum/exhibitions/2011/edward-hoppers-maine.shtml

-Annie Robinson

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