Discipline: Visual artist, painter

Edward Hopper

Discipline: Visual artist, painter
Region: New York, NY

Edward MacDowell Medalist: 1966

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While he was most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching. Both in his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life.

Hopper grew up in Upper Nyack, New York. He showed a talent in drawing at age five, and by his teens, he was working in pen-and-ink, charcoal, watercolor and oil. In high school, he dreamed of being a naval architect, but after graduation he declared his intention to follow an art career. In developing his self-image and individualistic philosophy of life, Hopper was influenced by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He later said, "I admire him greatly...I read him over and over again."

He began art studies with a correspondence course in 1899. Soon he transferred to the New York School of Art and Design, the forerunner of Parsons The New School for Design. There he studied for six years, with teachers including William Merritt Chase, who instructed him in oil painting, and Robert Henri, who taught life class. During his student years, he also painted dozens of nudes, still life studies, landscapes, and portraits, including his self-portraits.

In 1905, Hopper landed a part-time job with an advertising agency, where he created cover designs for trade magazines. He came to detest illustration, but was bound to it by necessity until the mid-1920s. He made three trips to Paris to study the emerging art scene there, but was highly impressed by the work of Rembrandt.

After years of struggling to find work and his own style, Hopper re-encountered Josephine Nivison, an artist and former student of Robert Henri, during a summer painting trip in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1923. The married a year later. She managed his career and his interviews, was his primary model, and was his life companion. With her help, Hopper’s work received more recognition.

In 2000, his birthplace and boyhood home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is now operated as the Edward Hopper House Art Center that serves as a nonprofit community cultural center.