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How Did Edward Hopper Manage to Turn a Plain Country Road Into a Psychologically Charged Drama? A New Exhibition Decodes His Tricks.

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For Edward Hopper, a rugged coastline or rural highway could be as psychologically charged as a café at night or a deserted city street. But the American artist’s landscapes tend to get overshadowed by his more famous paintings evoking urban isolation.

That is set to change with an exhibition opening this week at the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland that focuses on the American artist’s paintings of rural scenes. Hopper, who grew up in upstate New York and spent nearly every summer from the 1930s to the ’50s on Cape Cod, was “always playing with the expectation of the viewer and triggering something unconscious,” Ulf Küster, a curator at the Fondation Beyeler.

The show explores how Hopper used the same canny techniques to evoke a sense of uncertainty and heavy pathos in his landscapes and city scenes alike. “He is deliberately not doing traditional landscape,” Küster says.

Among the loans from private collections is Hopper’s 1939 painting Bridle Path, which epitomizes the artist’s ability to inject an unsettling note of drama into his compositions. It shows three riders galloping towards a tunnel in New York’s Central Park with the famous Dakota building in the background. The white horse with a male rider appears spooked, while the horses of his female companions charge ahead. The date of the painting—1939—perhaps offers an explanation for its ominous atmosphere. Hopper, who had spent time in Paris as a young artist, may have been thinking about the increasing threat of war in Europe.

To read more on Artnet:

Hopper DSC 0664 1Edward Hopper

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