A Hopper treasure trove for the Whitney

The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced a major donation of archival materials related to Edward Hopper, the artist of airless, anguished urban and suburban alienation, whose still, haunting canvases have influenced generations of poets, novelists, photographers and filmmakers.

The collection, which will be called the Sanborn Hopper Archive in honor of a gift from the Arthayer R. Sanborn Hopper Collection Trust, contains about 4,000 items – including more than 300 letters and notes from Hopper to his family, friends and colleagues; 21 notebooks in his own hand; and 90 notebooks by his wife and model, Josephine Nivison Hopper, as well as photographs, personal papers and dealer records.

The gift makes the Whitney the single largest repository of material on Hopper – the Nyack native whose seminal paintings include the oft-imitated “Nighthawks” and “House by the Railroad,” a depiction of a Haverstraw Victorian that inspired the houses in George Stevens’ movie “Giant” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” It also reinforces a relationship that was born when the Whitney Studio Club, a forerunner of the museum, gave Hopper his first show in 1920. Since its founding in 1930, the museum has exhibited Hopper’s work more than any other artist. Among its shows was “Edward Hopper and the American Imagination,” a 1995 exhibit whose ingenious catalog was an exphraistic exercise in poems and short stories related to the paintings.

Can’t get enough of Hopper? You’ll want to visit not only the Whitney but also the Edward Hopper House, his former childhood home in Nyack, now a house museum. Opening Friday, Aug. 18 and running through Oct. 29 is “Richard Tuschman: Hopper Meditations,” in which the photographer creates mysterious staged scenes that echo some of Hopper’s best-known works.

Proving that Hopper continues to haunt the artistic imagination.

For more, visit whitney.org and edwardhopperhouse.org.

Georgette Gouveia

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