Early Sunday Morning – A model for something more…

Hopper, Edward
Early Sunday Morning
Oil on canvas35 x 60 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

I’ve always been drawn to the work of Edward Hopper. Something about the beauty of a quiet calm moment and the pause that I feel when looking over the work.

There is an interesting passage in “Beauty in Photography” the collection of essays by Robert Adams, published by Aperture. From the essay “Truth and Landscape”, where Adams is describing how making photographs has to be a personal matter, somehow the photographer has to be in the picture…

“…what we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place. In this sense we would in most respects choose thirty minutes with Edward Hopper’s painting Sunday Morning to thirty minutes on the street with what was his subject; with Hopper’s vision we see more…there seem to be moments of revelation…there is a sense of comprehension.”

Adams goes on a bit before this into the three elements landscapes should offer: geography, autobiography and metaphor – the intensity of which these three are present raises the artistic act of what we all “work to keep intact – an affection for life.”

There is something in the painting “Early Sunday Morning” that resonates with me. Perhaps it is the title of the painting that sets up the framework for entering the quiet moment he chose to portray. I imagine being there alone in the first warmth of the sun, separated by the empty space of the street and before the activity of the day sweeps us up into the constant motion of the day to come – you have the chance to just see the quiet poetry of the storefront. The rhythms of windows, doors, curtains… awaiting the activity to follow, a haircut, a drink – a place to eat. If, as Adams writes, Art asserts that nothing is banal, then a work such as this is definitely a model for something more enduring in our everyday existence and it is worth searching for these moments in photography.


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