Post #1002 • May 9, 2007, 10:13 AM • 36 Comments
Boston—On the occasion of his show at the MFA, many writers have already opined about Hopper's rendering of a certain slice of America and its importance to the American imagination. So I'd like to begin by making a case for him as an abstractionist. Hopper was a classmate of George Bellows, and the difference of between them was like the difference between Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch: an ability, in each former case, to tone down the realism for the sake of the overall composition and graphic impact. In Drug Store, he set up a network of triangles in a skewed but apparent grid; Georges Braque could have painted those shadows on the pavement, which echo the sashes in the window and the dark, knife-like shadow on the building in the upper left corner. The brick-colored bars across the top resemble Sean Scully. The shadows have enormous binding power in the picture, partly because they're drawn so well, and partly because he has eliminated all detail within them, leaving nothing except the natural variation of the oil paint on the canvas.