Two days ago, I went to the Hopper exhibit at Rotterdam (“Hopper and His Time” at the Kunsthal – check it out here -> http://www.kunstaspekte.de/index.php?tid=52012&action=termin) . Although his work has been displayed and criticized many many many times already, this time the theme was slightly different: the idea was to compare Edward Hopper with the works of other artists of his time.
This resulted in a collection of pieces from a variety of genres: from photography to sketching to painting, all from the American culture between the 30s and the 60s.
Something that I found intriguing was the impression of ‘layers’ that most paintings created. It was as if the painters had all agreed to show life in the US under an optimistic point of view, while simultaneously hiding something. Even the bleakest landscapes somehow managed to ignite a ‘spark of life’, as the exhibit’s pamphlet said. Did all artists during the Great Depression feel compelled to produce art that would counterbalance the ambiance of the time? They still couldn’t completely dissimulate the depression, or chose not to. It was as if they had decided to represent everyday life as a cartoon, where everything and everyone was quirky, buoyant and sometimes even fantastic. I found myself wondering whether this was my own perception. Flamboyant and Flashy and Fun. Or Fake and Fraudulent? Hmmmm.
Well here are some of the artists that caught my attention, mostly due to the bright colours they used, which set them apart from the overused, black and white landscape pictures. I find Reginald Marsh’s painting’s very ‘american’-it’s hard to describe.
Reginald Marsh – “Twenty Cent”
Guy Pène du Bois – “Nightclub”
and well-known artist Maurice Prendergast – “Maddison Square”