Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday Mornings

In 1995 the Whitney Museum held a retrospective on the work of Edward Hopper. I must have attended the exhibit a dozen times. One of my favorite paintings of Hopper's, Early Sunday Morning, can still be seen at the Whitney, and it was there then, too.



I remember standing at this painting with a docent who described the shadowy block in the upper-right corner, how it symbolized a high-rise encroaching on these little brick buildings. It meant a dark future was coming and the world of these sun-drenched bricks would vanish.

Sometimes, I find myself unconsciously repeating Hopper's composition in snapshots--the pairing of low-rise brick buildings, sunny and warm, blushing in the light, with a cold monolith encroaching, upper right. This isn't hard to do. The image is everywhere.


my flickr

Have you seen it? If you have, add it to the Vanishing New York Flickr Pool. Tag it "Early Sunday Morning."

13 comments:

Ken Mac said...

a good tip for a good shot

Anonymous said...

Hopper's work has become increasingly important to me as I've gotten older. I'd rank 'Early Sunday Morning' as probably my favorite painting of all time.

As far as the dark form representing an encroaching gentrification, or representing anything, non-painters often forget that forms are present to create an interesting composition and grnerally aren't symbolic of anything at all.

Bowery Boogie said...

great piece, J. pick almost any lower east side street corner...

Anonymous said...

j, do you know what street that was, or is? or is it just different buildings he may have put together?

Jeremiah Moss said...

i have heard different things. some say it's Greenwich Avenue, others say it's that, plus some other stuff, or else somewhere completely different. another Hopper mystery, i guess.

laura said...

i just noticed that these buildings are 2 story. are there any of these left??

Jeremiah Moss said...

no, looks like they are all at least 3-story on Greenwich Ave., but Hopper might have chopped them down for his painting. did they ever exist?

laura said...

good point. maybe 2 story buildings were around. i will research. actually the more i look @that painting the more i do NOT see a sky scraper. i see the side of a 3 or 4 story older building. that makes me feel better.

Anonymous said...

Typical New Yorkers - Hopper painted all over New England and many small towns have this commercial Victorian townscape.

Roberta said...

I always thought this painting was of Bleecker and Carmine; it sure looks like it to me! There's an interesting article about it on the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation site.

Roberta said...

There's a link to a research article by Linda Yowell that GVSHP posted on their site:
http://www.gvshp.org/_gvshp/preservation/south_village/doc/Bleeckerlandmarking.pdf

Anonymous said...

I'd also wager it's a simple compositional device rather than anything else. If you remove the background building you are left with a very flat painting with horizontal stripes - the street, the buildings, the sky.

Inserting the background building creates the necessary depth our eyes require; locating it anywhere else in the painting would draw attention to it rather than the shops, so it's pushed off to the side.

It's entirely possible the background building didn't even exist and he threw it in there to make the space work - any good painter would probably do the same.

Goggla said...

I love that section of Bowery - that beautiful mansard always draws my eye.

For some reason, I'd thought the Hopper painting was of a street in Weehawken, near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. The morning light catches that block the same way.