Where am I now?

loading map - please wait...

Where am I now? 33.748995, -84.387982 Atlanta, GA, United States (Directions)

Foreshore-Two Lights: Atlanta’s Edward Hopper Watercolor

Two Lights Maine

The beautiful Edward Hopper watercolor at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta was once known as ‘Cape Elizabeth’. However, it was posthumously changed to ‘Foreshore-Two Lights’ (1927). Two Lights is a rocky point with two lighthouses at the tip of Cape Elizabeth peninsula, Maine. So beautiful is it that Jo Hopper wrote about ‘Foreshore-Two Lights’, ‘This one of his best sea pictures [sic], calmly dramatic but making no claims.’

Foreshore-Two Lights: A Zen Purity

‘Foreshore-Two Lights’ deserves such adulation. It has rich, dark tones and an almost Zen painting purity.

Like Hopper’s last oil paintings, the composition is pared down to basics. There are no ships, people, lighthouses or structures. The picture simply portrays the meeting of land and sea. It has Japanese-like brushstrokes of layered chocolate and charcoal brown in the rocks. Splashes of blue lead the eye to the navy blue water beyond.

Hopper as Abstract Artist

There is an almost complete absence of the geometric forms common in Hopper’s other watercolors. This and the use of blocks of color makes it reminiscent of Mark Rothko and his fellow Abstract Expressionists.

‘Foreshore-Two Lights’, and other pictures like it, lend credence to the theory that Hopper was significantly influenced by abstract art of the 1920’s and 30’s.  This despite his frequent protestations to the contrary. In turn, Hopper was a source of inspiration for Abstract Expressionists from the 1940’s onwards.

Steve Martin and the High Museum Atlanta

Luckily for Atlantans, unlike watercolors at many other museums, ‘Foreshore-Two Lights’ is displayed on regular rotation. It sits alongside watercolors by artists like Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth.

Larry Miller, Works on Paper Specialist at the museum, says that one of his roles is to share as much of the museum’s art as possible. This maximizes the chances that visitors to the museum develop a special connection with a picture and thus with art as a whole.

One regular visitor to the museum in the past was Steve Martin. Martin performed in Atlanta in his early days as a comedian. Indeed, he may have been inspired to become a collector by such visits. It’s conceivable that, for Martin, ‘Foreshore-Two Lights’ was that one special picture.

As Larry Miller, an artist in his own right, says, ‘The museum’s job is to bring quality to people. It’s not always easy to do that. But artists like Hopper make it a lot easier.’

Which museum do you think fulfills its role of ‘bringing quality to people’? How?

Route 66: LA to Laughlin

I begin my exploration of Route 66 on Good Friday. The destination is Laughlin, an oasis of sin on the Colorado River. It is situated in the sliver of Nevada between Arizona and California. The radio talkback shows are in proselytizing mode. The religious connotations of this journey are thrown into stark relief as I leave the last vestiges of civilization behind me and enter the Mojave Desert.

Read more…

Los Angeles

First Stop: Los Angeles

Edward Hopper didn’t like Los Angeles. He didn’t like the perennial traffic, as much an issue in his day as it is today. Despite the rush hour traffic, I feel a sense of release as I crawl towards Santa Barbara from LAX on the I-405. It’s a sun-drenched Friday evening. I’m driving a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser, my companion for the next twelve weeks as I cross America. My final destination is the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which is showing the largest retrospective of Edward Hopper’s pictures to date.

Read more…

Subscribe to New Posts!

Receive notifications of new posts: