Tuscaloosa’s Hoppers were originally in the Gulf States Paper Corporation’s art collection. This is a big timber region. On the way down from Memphis to Tuscaloosa, the mixed pine and deciduous forests are impenetrable. An occasional dilapidated house, with a family relaxing on the porch, breaks up the journey.
My journey into the heart of the South begins the next day. Like the rumbling FedEx road trains, I am following the Mississippi south to Memphis. The river glistens in the rainy twilight, its massive breadth a reminder of its huge catchment area.
Amongst the first thirteen purchases for the Murdock Collection was Edward Hopper’s ‘Five A.M.’ (1937).
Between the smogged, third-world freeways of El Paso, Texas and the strip malls of Carlsbad, New Mexico there is nothing. I cross the vast, open mesas of the Llano Estacado of west Texas on a straight, two-lane road. For hundreds of miles, there is no water, food, gas or living creature of any kind, apart from the occasional rocketing semi-trailer or pick-up truck driven by a cowboy-hatted Texan.