Happy Birthday Edward Hopper

Born on July 22, 1882 in Nyack, New York, Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is recognized as one of the greatest American artist of the 20th century. Hopper was encouraged by his parents in his intellectual and artistic pursuits and by the age of 5 Hopper was already exhibiting a natural talent for the arts.

Edward Hopper, Arnold Newman, 1941.

Encouraged to study illustration by his parents, Hopper took courses at the Correspondence School of Illustrating, and at the New York School of Art. He studied under many notable illustrators/painters including; Arthur Ignatius Keller, Frank Vincent DuMond, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Robert Henri were among his teachers.

Edward Hopper, 'Men Seated at Café Table', (1906). Transparent and opaque watercolor, pen and ink, brush and ink, and graphite pencil on paper.

In 1906 at 24 years old, Hopper landed a part-time job at an advertising agency and went on to create images for popular magazines at the time including; Scribner’s Magazine, Everbody's Magazine, and Country Gentleman, and for specialty journals like Hotel Management, The Morse Dial, and Wells Fargo Messenger.

In 1915 he discovered etching, which he found more economically feasible, being that multiple prints of the same artwork could be sold. This also allowed him the artistic freedom he craved so deeply.

Edward Hopper, New York, 1955. (Three Lions/Getty Images)

Hopper was attracted to realist art and began producing etchings and painting urban and architectural scenes in a darker palette. His earliest artistic did not come from his oil paintings, rather it came from his watercolors and etchings. Unfortunately Hopper struggled in the sale of his works on canvases, causing him to reluctantly work as a commercial illustrator to make a living.

Hopper's etchings focused on themes the artist would explore throughout his career: isolated figures, empty streets, strong contrasts between light and shadow, and the play of sunlight on architecture.

Edward Hopper, 'Nighthawks,' 1942.

Hopper is known for his unique style and personal interpretation of realism. He depicted stillness in motion and a softness in light. His subtleness allowed the viewers to embrace a sense of calmness in the commonplace they were accustomed too; such as city streets, small shops, cafes, diners and porch stoops. He had an ability to capture viewers emotions through nostalgia.

Even though Edward Hopper will always be known for his marvelous oil paintings such as ’Nighthawks’ and ‘Chop Suey.’ And while Hopper left no written reflections on his two-decade career as an illustrator, we cannot forget the impact that illustration had on shaping his artistic career. Happy Birthday Edward Hopper.

Edward Hopper, 'Boy and Moon,' Watercolor and ink, 1906-1907.


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