Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

by Gail Levin
     
 

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Part Two Of Two Parts

In the art of Edward Hopper, unhappy men and women play out mysterious dramas in stark spaces. It makes us wonder what kind of life engendered this art. This intimate biography sheds revealing light.

Early on, success eluded Hopper, so he eked out a living as an illustrator for advertising and popular fiction -- an occupation he hated. The

Overview

Part Two Of Two Parts

In the art of Edward Hopper, unhappy men and women play out mysterious dramas in stark spaces. It makes us wonder what kind of life engendered this art. This intimate biography sheds revealing light.

Early on, success eluded Hopper, so he eked out a living as an illustrator for advertising and popular fiction -- an occupation he hated. The turning point came when Hopper, already past forty, married Josephine Nivison, an artist who inspired him. But Edward's career swallowed Josephine whole. She endured, but resented. Their love/hate relationship lasted 43 years.

"Nearly flawless accessible to anyone even remotely interested in modern American art." (The New York Times)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Three essays appended add new significance.... demonstrates how Hopper’s wife was an artist in her own right and an important influence. She recorded a difficult marriage and the art world around her in her diaries. Hopper’s paintings are seen anew in light of her revelations. Libraries should purchase this..." ~Choice

bn.com
From the thoughts and reflections in Jo Nivison Hopper's diary, Hopper authority and cataloguer Gail Levin constructs the most thorough biography of the American painter to date. What emerges is a picture of two artists in a stormy 43-year marriage marked by violence and sacrifice, cruelty and devotion. Since original source material from Hopper himself is almost nonexistent, Levin necessarily relies on his wife's point of view, but whether the man behind the ambivalent, melancholy vision of post-industrial age America is truly revealed here remains a matter of question. So it seems Hopper will, in many ways, remain a mystery. Of tremendous value, however, is Levin's drive to reconstruct the time, place, and mood from which each of Hopper's major works were created. An essential companion to Levin's five books on Hopper's work.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This remarkable biography throws Hopper's art and life into sharp new perspective. Its focus is the laconic, introverted painter's stormy 43-year marriage to outspoken, gregarious Josephine (``Jo'') Nivison, herself an artist. Levin, art professor at Baruch College and the City University of New York graduate school, draws extensively on Jo Hopper's intimate diaries, which she kept from the early 1930s until shortly before her death in 1968 (just 10 months after her husband died). Through diary entries, we learn that Hopper ridiculed, degraded and occasionally beat or bruised his wife, that he refused to let her drive their car, that he thwarted her career even as she devotedly helped him find subjects to paint. Nevertheless, as his model, intellectual peer and fellow artist, she stimulated his creativity, and, according to Levin, they became partners and conspirators in a domestic drama of deep attraction and violent opposition that fed his disquieting vision of modern life. Illustrated throughout with photographs as well as scores of reproductions of both Hoppers' paintings and drawings. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Hopper's cool portrayals of American life transcend photographic realism and, like the oft-reproduced and -parodied "Nighthawks," have become icons of despair and a remote hope. This thorough work is by necessity a dual biography of Hopper and Josephine Nivison Hopper, the artist's wife of nearly 50 years. By relying on the diaries and letters of Jo, Levin has depicted the antagonistic symbiosis of the couple's marriage. Jo Hopper was an untiringthough not uncomplainingadvocate of her husband's art and the female model for the characters in most of his great works. Hopper is depicted as a misogynist who takes every opportunity to thwart his wife's already frustratedthough not wholly unsuccessfulpainting career. Living up to the "intimate" of the subtitle, Levin's biography has taken advantage of her sources to create a detailed and monumental ledger of the genesis and creation of Hopper's modern masterpieces. Levin, the author of numerous works on Hopper (including the recent Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonn, Norton, 1995), has carefully balanced the artistic and personal lives of the Hoppers. Recommended for all art and biography collections.Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
Donna Seaman
opper's reticence was legendary, so Levin, a Hopper scholar, turned to the diaries of Hopper's far more loquacious wife, Jo, for insights into their very private life and discovered that Jo was essential to the creation of Edward's art. Levin's biography is, therefore, a double portrait. Edward and Jo were collaborators, soul mates, and adversaries for 45 productive if anguished years. Edward was an artist practically from birth, and Jo, an unusually independent young woman for her time, was also a painter, but once she married Edward, she sacrificed her art for his. Edward was as ruthlessly selfish as he was talented, as coldly competitive as he was brilliant. Jo posed for every female figure Edward painted, chronicled the making of every major work, and cajoled Edward out of his frequent slumps. Levin analyzes Edward's repressed and repressive personality and contentious marriage, then illuminates the sources of his powerful and provocative paintings and discusses his belief that art, in his words, "is one's effort to communicate to others one's emotional reaction to life and the world." That he did, with resounding success.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780847829309
Publisher:
Rizzoli
Publication date:
04/24/2007
Edition description:
Updated
Pages:
780
Product dimensions:
7.11(w) x 9.50(h) x 2.43(d)

Meet the Author


Gail Levin is Professor of Art History at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York.

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