Friday, October 31, 2008

Hopper Revisited


This is how it all started: "Nighthawks", Edward Hopper's famous painting of a lonely street corner diner, glowing in a dark and lonely urban scene was reproduced and printed on cheesy t-shirts in a gift shop at the Chicago Art Institute. I do not claim to know much about art. Like most, all I know is what I like. I pushed the wire hangers back until I found my size and wore it on the plane home to Utah. Proust wrote that art should explain us to ourselves. Subconsciously a painting, a piece of music or sculpture will pull us near and in a hushed tone say, 'I know,...right?' Even on a piece of pre-shrunk cotton, some secret exciting and half painful knowledge inside was scratched before I knew anything about what the people in his paintings represented.
To understand some of his paintings is to understand that lonely feeling that rises when you are surrounded by so many people that any form of human interaction and intimacy that we so badly thrive on, nears an impossibility. Many of his paintings were urban scenes of people lost in transition, painted in almost a voyueristic way that makes the viewer even feel lonely for 'watching'.
The effects from the migration of the American from the land to the socially constructed and apathetic city was often the back story to the lonely and lost people in his paintings, hanging, staring as if suspended in the middle of some sort of cycle. This narrative came to me as an honest, sad, and endearing portrait of many of my own feelings. Searching the subjects of his paintings, I saw the main characters of Kerouac novels, adrift, conflicted, full of intention only lacking the affirmation regarding where to place this intention.
As I photographed a friend from Germany's wedding a few weeks ago and this intense midday light came through the windows, sliding angles of heated sunlight across solid colored carpet, I just felt like I was in a Hopper painting. I felt like a similar feeling was there as well, maybe just in a less depressing way. If you had time to waste you could analyze the imagery in a dozen different ways. The couple-hands clasped to reinforce this "us against the world" idea, backs to the eye - that feeling of voyuerism, faces to the sun yet invisible - the unanswered question of how the subject feels, (Hopper rarely showed emotion in the faces), the wedding - a day of transition, etc. I don't think my friends were sad like some of Hopper's symbols, but my own feelings seeping through filled in the gaps between reality and this image being similar to paintings that consistently demand my attention.
Although in my mind they look like the subjects in one of his paintings, they were happy, not sad, lonely or depressed. This can be answered by two possible scenarios. 1) The photograph exposes a latent truth of feelings of being overwhelmed with possibility that existed, just not on the surface. Or, 2) Art (this feeling that educates) is not in the relationship between the subject and the remainder of elements in the medium, rather it is inside the relationship between the viewer and the entire medium. Either way, whoever is responsible for putting VanGogh's on coffee mugs and Warhol's on keychains; keep it up. There is plenty of art out there waiting to pull us close and give us a break by shedding light on our secret conflicts, cares and desires.

15 comments:

jmophoto said...

"The effects from the migration of the American....." - what the hell? those half-specs and sweater vests are improving more than your love life.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.

cell phone jammer 007 said...

lonely,no one can escape

Zen Muffin said...

really lovely. the first thing i noticed about the photo was the contrast between the humanity of the couple and the relative permanence of the church in front of them. i think that creates a sadness too, but it's softened by that awesome sunlight. love it!

ania said...

Words and photograph - both thought-provoking.

Leah said...

Saw you on the 'blogs of note' tab, and decided to check it out... Glad I did. Fantastic photo and exposition :)
-Leah

3pieceonline said...

love this photograph. I am one of the blogs of note readers taking a look.

shethinks said...

bravo.

Tirami Sue said...

I'm so glad you are a blog of note. This photo and your remarks are both wonderful. Thank you!!

Mo said...

I really liked this photograph. It seemed like the couple were on a journey. Either to the church from their lives in work or looking back on where they had been. Very cool

Cindy said...

thats a beautiful picture!

GraceFromHim said...

wow.....what an awesome blog. You are a master with these beautiful photos!!! Love It!!!

marlaakajake said...

Hopper pulled me in too many years ago. I like the way you capture the moments in many of your pictures. You deffinately have a very special talent. Hopper in photoland you are!

molecular blob said...

That's a church? I thought it was the Disney castle at first. makes for an interesting perspective if you think about it.. the couple staring at the magic of their childhood from a distance, held seperate by the new magic just beginning in their lives. I enjoy your depth.

What camera do you use?

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