By damekor, Aug 13 2014 07:00AM


By OFH, Jun 3 2014 10:34AM Posted on Off The Hook Website

This week I've flown over the pond and am reporting from the USA! Here I am in the largest city in Minnesota, right on the Mississippi River and adjoining Saint Paul, known as the "Twin Cities" and the "Land of 10,000 Lakes".

So what have I found so far that's ‘off the hook’ here in Minneapolis?...

Well, they have a great creative and arts scene, and when I heard they have a major exhibition featuring 22 paintings and sketches of Hopper's work at the Walker Art Centre, that had to be my first excursion. This centre is up there and hailed as one of the top five museums of modern art in the US, so I was expecting great things. I jumped on the number 6 bus and rode from Downtown to 1750 Hennepin Avenue and there it was…an interesting shape of aluminium-mesh, concrete and glass. Formally opened to the public in 1927 and prior to that, it began life in a room at Thomas Barlow Walker's home with twenty of his favourite pieces of art hanging on the walls. Now on 9 levels and boasting over 6 gallery spaces, a theatre, cinema room and a restaurant, it has grown some. The exhibition, "Hopper Drawing: A Painter's Process" is truly fantastic and inspiring. Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was an incredibly gifted and talented artist. His work is beautiful, deep, simple and minimalistic. He loved architecture, his use of lines, shadows and dramatic lighting is both alluring and thought provoking. He focused on urban and rural scenes, also figures at work, home, in different environments including hotel lobbies, bedrooms and a famous painting you will have seen before Nighthawks, four customers and a waiter are in a diner.

One of my favourite pieces on display has to be Soir Bleu. I love the colour, the characters, the mood and atmosphere, although in this work there are a group of figures, they are all in their own world and a strong sense of solitude shines through. His paintings are emotional and there is a feeling of loneliness and contemplation surrounding his figures. His figures are often looking out of windows or through the viewer’s eyes. It's like we've caught them in private moments and we are left to complete their stories.

In 1913 he sold his first painting 'sailing' for $250. In 1999 actor Steve Martin purchased ‘The Hotel Window’ for $10 Million and seven years later it was sold for a cool $26.89 Million. His fantastic legacy also includes the great influence he had on other artists, notably inspiring Alfred Hitchcock's work; replications of his images can be seen in films such as The Rear Window and Psycho.

His wife Jo, influenced his work and would model for him, she would go on to do this for 40 years. Edward died in his studio and ten months later Jo followed him, leaving behind decade’s worth of wonderful and extremely valuable work.

It was fascinating to see his work and accompanying sketches and studies that lead to each creation. A pleasant bonus at the end of the exhibition was a studio to test our skills, an 'Old School Art School', complete with a scene to draw, pencils paper and drawing boards. What a great thing to do! I have to say I did enjoy it and listen, I don't want to boast or anything, but the rather lovely and encouraging tutor Raymond Robinson did give an A+ for perspective and shading. Something must have sunk in! What a great day. So all in all, an exhibition not to be missed.


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