Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

Overview

"A definitive biography." Robert Hughes, Time "A nearly flawless account of a remarkable artist . . . a compelling and accessible narrative for anyone even remotely interested in modern American art." Michael Kammen, The New York Times Book Review This acclaimed biography of Edward Hopper is essential reading for anyone interested in the world-famous realist artist. This second, expanded edition doubles the number of illustrations, and includes a new section of paintings in color. A newly added section on ...

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Overview

"A definitive biography." Robert Hughes, Time "A nearly flawless account of a remarkable artist . . . a compelling and accessible narrative for anyone even remotely interested in modern American art." Michael Kammen, The New York Times Book Review This acclaimed biography of Edward Hopper is essential reading for anyone interested in the world-famous realist artist. This second, expanded edition doubles the number of illustrations, and includes a new section of paintings in color. A newly added section on Hopper's international influence on culture, especially on contemporary art, poetry, and cinema, makes this edition unique. The original biography (Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, Knopf, 1995) has long been considered the seminal review of Edward Hopper's life and work. The biography's focus is the laconic, introverted painter's stormy forty-three-year marriage to outspoken and gregarious Josephine ("Jo") Nivison, herself an artist, and 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).

Our mental picture of Hopper is based on his images of alienated men and women and of stark landscapes. Now, Hopper scholar and curator Gail Levin shows the reader both the truth and the inaccuracy of those notions, and reveals the man himself. Included also is the story of Jo Hopper, a woman who sacrificed her identity as an artist to be his wife, model, and partner. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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.
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
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847829309
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 4/24/2007
  • Edition description: Updated
  • Pages: 780
  • Sales rank: 642,445
  • Product dimensions: 7.11 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 2.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Levin is professor of fine and performing arts, art history, American studies, and women's studies at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. An internationally known curator, she has organized many exhibitions on Edward Hopper. Among her other books are Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, and The Poetry of Solitude: A Tribute to Edward Hopper.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Truth and Pain
The Roots of Conflict: 1882-1899 3
Defining the Talent: 1899-1906 27
Seductive Paris: 1906-1907 49
The Ambivalent American: 1907-1910 72
In Search of a Style: 1911-1915 84
The Detour through Etching: 1915-1918 102
The Deeper Hunger: 1918-1923 123
The Leading Lady 146
First Success: 1923-1924 167
Getting Established: 1925-1927 188
On the Road to America: 1928-1929 212
Recognition: 1930-1933 227
First Retrospective and the Truro House: 1933-1935 251
An Intellectual Self-Portrait 272
Consequences of Success: 1936-1938 283
The Struggle to Paint: 1939 307
The War Begins: 1940 320
Failed Odyssey: 1941 333
Nighthawks: 1942 348
Mexico: 1943 358
War on the Home Front: 1944 367
The Aesthetic Divide: 1945 375
Anxiety: 1946-1947 385
Illness and Loss: 1948 400
Melancholy Reflection: 1949 408
A Retrospective Year: 1950 421
Mexico Again: 1951 436
Planning Reality: 1952 445
Reality: 1953 455
Taking Stock: 1954 474
Personal Vision: 1955 482
Time Cover Story: 1956 494
Toward Reconciliation: 1957-1958 508
Excursion into Philosophy: 1959 520
Protest: 1960 529
Prints Again: 1961-1962 543
Last Rehearsal: 1963-1964 554
Final Curtain: 1965-1967 569
Bibliographical Notes 581
Notes 583
Acknowledgments 645
Index 647
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