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Creator Name: Hopper, Edward
Creator Nationality: North American; American
Creator Dates/Places: 1882-1967
Creator Birth Place: Nyack, New York, United States
Creator Death Place: New York, New York, United States
Creator Name-CRT: Edward Hopper
Title: Early Sunday Morning
View: Scanned from an 8x10 transparency by Sheldan Collins
Creation Start Date: 1930
Creation End Date: 1930
Creation Date: (1930)
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: oil on canvas
Dimensions: Whole - 35 3/16 x 60 1/4 in. (89.4 x 153 cm.); Frame - 43 x 68 1/2 in. (109.2 x 174 cm.)
AMICA Contributor: Whitney Museum of American Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 31.426
Credit Line: Purchase, with funds from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Early Sunday Morning was acquired by the Whitney Museum within a few months of its completion, the first Edward Hopper painting to enter the Permanent Collection. It is still regarded as one of Hopper's most evocative works, a paradigm of the solemn isolation with which he imbued his city views and of the way in which he distilled, rather than recorded, his subjects. In Early Sunday Morning he copied an actual row of buildings on Seventh Avenue in New York (the work was originally titled Seventh Avenue Shops). But Hopper strove to generalize the site, avoiding the kind of topical detail embraced by contemporaries like Reginald Marsh. The lettering in the shop signs, for instance, is apparent, but unreadable.
Although people are nowhere to be seen, evidence of the human presence is everywhere. In the sequence of second-story windows, identical in size, each aperture has been treated differently, as if reflecting the individuality of its occupant. Hopper initially painted a figure in one of these windows, but later painted it out. To create a dramatic play of light and shadow, Hopper took larger liberties with the original setting. The long shadow on the top of the building and the dark bands across the sidewalk suggest an impossible position for the sun on this north-south avenue. The variety of lighting on the flat, frontal row of buildings is more theatrical than real. In fact, these Seventh Avenue facades recall a theater set, designed by Jo Mielziner, for Elmer Rice's Street Scene, a play Hopper and his wife had attended the previous year. Hopper's willingness to alter the photographic truths of a site reveals a concern with form no less than with content. Indeed, Early Sunday Morning can easily be viewed as a succession of verticals and horizontals and a frieze of contrasted shadow and light. Many of the upper windows have the appearance of miniature Mark Rothko paintings. Given the fundamentally representational character of Hopper's art, it is ironic that this work is equally admired for its stark abstraction, painterly surfaces, and studiously constructed compositions. Hopper's power as the quintessential twentieth-century American realist is sustained by his mastery of formal pictorial construction.
Related Document Description: Sims, Patterson. Whitney Museum of American Art: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection. New York, New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1985, p.77.
Related Multimedia Description: Antenna Audio: Permanent Collection Tour (part one)
Link to Multimedia: WMAA.AA200102.03.mp3
Related Multimedia Description: Antenna Audio: Permanent Collection Tour (part two)
Link to Multimedia: WMAA.AA200102.04.mp3
AMICA ID: WMAA.31.426
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright Whitney Museum of American Art
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