They’re back in Vermont…Hopper’s Vermont Watercolors and Drawings, at the Middlebury College Museum of Art

Opening Event: Friday, 7 June, 4:00 p.m. ….Scroll down for details.

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Edward Hopper.
Vermont Sugar House (1938).
Collection of Louis Moore Bacon.

Need I say more?  Well,  yes…this is, after all, my blog and my soapbox! I have to underscore that the Middlebury exhibition offers what is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Edward Hopper’s Vermont works reunited and hanging together in the Green Mountain State, the place where they were made. These watercolors and drawings have come to Middlebury from all over the United States, on loan from five private collectors and six museums.  They’ve been assembled as a unique group of Hopper’s works related to a single place — Vermont — for the first time, other than in the pages of my book.

Most of these works have only rarely, if ever, been exhibited outside of their owners’ homes or away from their home institutions. And none of them have come home to Vermont since Hopper packed them into the trunk of his car, at the end of his various summer sojourns between 1927 and 1938, and drove them back to his winter home in New York City.

Seen “in person,” Hopper’s paintings are strikingly beautiful, with colors that have remained strong — an advantage of their being so rarely on display and thus protected from the damage caused by too much exposure to light.  As watercolors, they have a translucence that reveals the artist’s underlying pencil sketch and, in some cases, traces of his changes and corrections. The Conté crayon and pencil drawings, which relate directly or indirectly to the finished watercolors, record Hopper’s interest in the details of the Vermont landscape — trees, rocks, water, the shape of the mountain ridgeline — and  evidence his process in developing final compositions.

Middlebury’s installation, by museum designer Ken Pohlman, provides a lovely setting for these Hoppers, spaced to favor intimate examination of individual pieces as well as to  facilitate comparison of works made on Hopper’s various visits to Vermont. Ken included location maps and photographs of Hopper’s sites and the Hoppers’ own records of Vermont paintings – Jo’s descriptive notes and Edward’s sketches – in reproductions of pages from their Ledger Books. A guest book from the Slaters’ farm, signed by Edward, original letters from Jo Hopper to Irene Slater, and other period ephemera are displayed in a case.  And there are two kinds of labels for this exhibition: I provided the storyline for the Hoppers’ time in Vermont, and Richard Saunders, museum director and Middlebury professor, wrote about the works from his perspective as an art historian.  Richard’s commentary, based on his direct observations of the original works in this rare assemblage, is another unique aspect of the exhibition, complementing and augmenting what I’ve written.

Need I say more?  Just one more thing:  The official opening event for the exhibition is on Friday, June 7 — a great chance to see the exhibition, hear my talk, and join the reception to celebrate bringing Hopper home to Vermont!  Details are below.

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Friday, 7 June 2013
4:00 p.m.
Middlebury College Museum of Art
Edward Hopper in Vermont
Lecture and slide presentation
by Bonnie Tocher Clause, author and guest curator for Middlebury’s exhibition of Edward Hopper’s Vermont watercolors and drawings.
Book signing and reception following the lecture.


 

Lecture location: Concert Hall / Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road / Middlebury, VT / 802.443.5007

Installation in Progress: “Hopper in Vermont” Opens on May 23!

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Tuesday, May 21:
The Hoppers are hung at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, and exhibition designer Ken Pohlman is putting the finishing touches on a beautiful installation, an elegantly simple setting for Hopper’s wonderful watercolors of Vermont.

But no spoilers here!  You’ll have to go and see this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition for yourself, opening on Thursday, May 23, and running through August 11.  It’s free and open to the public,as is the official opening event on Friday, June 7. See the Middlebury Museum’s web site for details.

Thursday, May 23:
With a host of Hopper happenings, May 23 could be designated “Edward Hopper Day 2013.”  May 23 is the opening day for not just one but two exhibitions of Edward Hopper’s works, both “firsts” for their particular scope, focus, and content.

In addition to Edward Hopper in Vermont in Middlebury, an unusual Hopper exhibition opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Hopper Drawing is billed by the Whitney as “the first major museum exhibition to focus on the drawings and creative process of Edward Hopper.”

The two exhibitions–in Vermont and in New York–are nicely complementary, as there are five Hopper drawings in the Middlebury show of Vermont works. Four of these are on loan from the Whitney and one is from a private collector, and they have rarely, if ever, been displayed.  Hopper made these five drawings on trips into Vermont between 1927 and 1938 as he was scouting for scenes to paint. As preparatory drawings for watercolors, they show Hopper’s interest in the details of the landscape–trees on a hillside, rock formations in the river–and they evidence his process in developing compositions for paintings.

Also on May 23 in New York City is Christie’s auction of two Hopper works, Blackwell’s Island (oil, 1928) and Kelly Jenness House (watercolor, 1932). These two works are predicted to fetch record-breaking prices for Hoppers. You can watch the bidding online Thursday morning–and fantasize that you’re in the room and raising your card!

Well, we can’t all own a Hopper, but at least we have plenty of chances to visit them in great museums this summer!

Hopper’s Vermont in “Antiques & Fine Art Magazine”

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Edward and Josephine Hopper in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 1927.
Photograph: The Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust (2005). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

In the summer of 1927 Edward and Josephine Hopper had been married for three years. They had just purchased their first car, a used Dodge, enabling them to drive from New York City for their summer excursion  into New England. That year they went first to Cape Elizabeth in Maine, where the photo above was taken.

From Maine the Hoppers traveled to the Whitney Studio Club’s summer establishment in Charlestown, New Hampshire. From Charlestown they made their first trips into Vermont, crossing the Connecticut River — the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont — and driving into the area near Bellows Falls.

To read more, follow this link to my article in AFAnews.com, originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of Antiques &  Fine Art Magazine. This piece includes beautiful reproductions of Hopper’s Vermont watercolors and two of his drawings, along with my own photos of sites along the White River in Royalton, Vermont.  Enjoy — and for the full version of the story, read my book, Edward Hopper in Vermont!