The Lost Hopper


I can “see” and think I remember it as an Edward Hopper creation; it having lines like scratches adding up to shapes and forms on a mottled beige surface. I’ve recreated the composition here from that memory/fantasy because for all the power of the internet, I can’t find the damn thing!

This phantom Hopper had the train approaching on the bridge over a river with the engineer looking down at some bathing beauties. That said, I’ve decreed the would-be Naiads to be three and naked. But as they are are but a memory–perhaps a fantasy–I’ve made them here to be plywood cutouts and made the train long gone. So this picture says again that love, even lust, is an illusion and career, even a job, is ephemeral, but art, stepping safely back–twice–from both, can make the ephemeral seem permanent and illusions seem real.

Hopper (1882 –1967) was a traditionalist realist, sorta. Yes, his art was always of the American scene and easily recognized as such, but there was always something unreal about his work. When he painted figures there was a surreality like theater; his people were always mannequin-like actors posing with masks similar to his near peer, Ensor. And there was a cooling formalism in his compositions bordering on the abstract, but never taking that leap, like another near peer, Mondrian. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.