Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Thoughts on Dallas Museum of Art and exhibit "Hopper Drawing-A Painter's Process"
The image above is from the show and melds one of the studies for "Summertime" by Edward Hopper, on the left side and then the actual finished painting on the right. I took this picture from a postcard I purchased at the Dallas Museum of Art as we were not allowed to photograph anything in the show. So you will have to pardon the quality of the picture as the postcard doesn't do it justice as well as my photo of the postcard.
Also, might I ask pardon for tolerating my thoughts on the show and the museum. I am by no means an expert and all that I write is simply my own two cents for whatever that's worth.
This kind of show is most interesting to other artists because they get a glimpse into part of the process that the creator went through to get to the final product. In the postcard above, the splicing of a study with the final product shows modifications made and the artistic license employed. The show had numerous sketches, studies and drawings for each final painting. It was tremendous to compare these drawings to the final product and look carefully at what Hopper chose to leave out or add.
Hopper is an incredible drawer. All of his studies were so well executed that I often found them to be more accurate and more "weighty" than the final product. His values were spot on, especially in his charcoal studies, which had a full range of values expertly utilized. I was curious though why, in some of the paintings, he seemed not to put the same value change that he did in his sketches. Surely for simplification, but in some cases, in my view, I would have preferred to have his eagle eye put these subtle shifts in. Overall, I would say that I preferred all of his drawings to his paintings. There were many color choices and sometimes muddy areas that I know were intentionally chosen, but I would like to have seen not so grey. I also felt that he seemed supremely confident in his drawing, but when it came to the painting and the actual move to applying paint to canvas, there seemed to be more "wavering". Not as confident. I almost wanted to say to Hopper, "Come on...show us the same stuff that you did in your sketches..."
In "Morning Sun" above, the graphic quality and strong, confident lines in the sketch are not as evident in other areas such as the toes and legs in the finished painting. The figure seems a bit mushier an softer in the final product.
It was a beautiful show, interesting to hear so many comments that people made and how strongly they felt about Hopper's work. I learned a great deal, but mostly that I must commit to more groundwork and drawing in my paintings before I begin.
The museum itself is lovely, large and light. They have enough there to keep you busy for ages. I did enjoy the "Young Masters" program which was hung in the hallway. It featured high school art student's work and in my humble opinion, had work that was far superior to some other work that I saw by a local Dallas artist that shall remain nameless.