Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Edward Hopper's Portrayal of Women in Art

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Edward Hopper's Portrayal of Women in Art

It can certainly be argued that most artists are trying to express something through their work, either to an audience or themselves. When a single theme continuously appears in one's catalog, it suggests that this subject is an important one to the artist. The most convincing pieces of evidence supporting the importance of women in Edward Hopper's paintings are, how frequently they appear, the way in which they are shown, or not shown and the dominant role they take in the painting. The fact that his wife, Jo Nivison, stood as the model for many of these works certainly suggests the fact that Hopper's art and his life were not two completely separate issues.

Vivien Green Fryd's essay on Edward Hopper's Girlie Show gives many examples of other pieces by the artist, which also concentrate on the female form in many different poses and environments. She states "Hopper often represented the female nude. Early in his career, he painted the nude in formal poses in another studio…Standing Nude…or in less conventional poses in domestic interiors..."

The Author of the Essay also speaks of the way in which the women were portrayed. Of course the environment in a painting such as Girlie Show itself speaks quite a bit of "power struggle" as Fryd points out, the way in which the actual figure of the women were drawn also says much about what Hopper was trying to convey. Fryd speaks of a the way in which the females face is "obscured" in Summer Interior, "…erasing her identity".

In Painter In Background "the woman remains the object of the artists (and viewers) gaze

…establishing [her] passive role".

In interviews with Edward, Jo and acquaintances of theirs, it is more than apparent that there were some serious issues stewing within their marriage. Ed was said to constantly attempt to stifle his wife at the slightest sign of disagreement. Meanwhile Fryd quoted Jo saying, "Marriage is difficult, quoted Jo. But the thing has to be gone through." hardly the attitude to support a healthy marriage. The clearest sign of correlation between the work and the real life relationship between these two lies in what Fryd says of Girlie Show, "In this painting more than any other, Joe is silenced and silences Edward".

The relevance to of this statement in regards to their marriage is shown in the quoting of writer and author Brian O'Doherty, who, when speaking of their relationship said he remembered Jo "Chattered against her husband's silence, a silverpoint writing against a boulder. O'Doherty also recalled "When he [Edward] disagreed with something she [Jo] said, he spoke in a flat monotone that fell across the conversation like a roadblock, which had to be removed before further progress could be made."

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