Seek the Story

Edward Hopper’s paintings were inspired as well as inspiring. Who could view his moody and spare piece, “Nighthawks,” and not look for a story therein? A recent short story collection, edited by Lawrence Block, called In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper, makes that point. In the foreword, Block writes:  “Hopper was neither an illustrator nor a narrative painter.  His paintings don’t tell stories. What they do is suggest—powerfully, irresistibly—that there are stories within them, waiting to be told. He shows us a moment in time, arrayed on a canvas:  there’s clearly a past and a future, but it’s our task to find it for ourselves.” The authors that Block has gathered in this anthology are not your average fly-by-night writers—these ones have big names: Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Connelly, Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Child, Robert Olen Butler, to name a few. They all obviously have a ken for Edward Hopper as the depth of this collection demonstrates.

Likewise, a collection of poems entitled, The Poetry of Solitude: A Tribute to Edward Hopper, edited by Gail Levin, is a book filled with the art works and the poems they inspired. Professor Gail Levin lives and breathes Edward Hopper. She is the foremost authority of Hopper in the world and her regard shines through in another work, Hopper’s Places, in which she has placed a photograph of the exact site of a painting on the opposing page. It is as if you can see what Hopper has done so brilliantly by comparison—his paintings are not reproductions, they breathe with a life of their own.

Though Hopper painted in New England and New York, because of his affinity for seascapes, we, on the west coast, are asenchanted by them. He perfectly captures the colors and moods of the ocean and the seaside towns for us. Children and adults can both enjoy:  Edward Hopper: Summer at the Seashore by Deborah Lyons or Come Look with Me: Exploring Landscape Art with Children by Gladys S. Blizzard or Edward Hopper: Painter of Light and Shadow by Susan Goldman Rubin.

When you’re out and about this summer, basking in the long days of sunlight and shadows, look around and see an old house or a lonely-looking man or a family through their window, and think about Edward Hopper. He’s the one that captured that feeling for you in one of his magnificent paintings.

~posted by Diane C.

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