Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper at Palazzo Reale in Milan

review by Jizaino, 27 December 2009

Edward Hopper - The first big exhibition on Edward Hopper in Italy
Palazzo Reale - Piazza Duomo, 12 - Milan
from 14 October 2009 to 31 January 2010
opening times: Tuesday - Sunday 9.30-19.30, Monday 14.30-19.30, Thursday 9.30-22.30
31 December: 9.30 - 14.00
1 January: 14.30 - 19.30
6 January: 9.30 - 19.30
ticket: full rate €9, reductions for groups, children and other categories

Edward Hopper

"If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint", Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

The exhibition

This event is introduced by the pamphlet as the first great Italian exhibition dedicated to the famous American Artist of the XX century, and it has been realized by Carter Foster, actual curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which received in 1970 as a donation from the widow of Hopper more than 2500 artworks of the Artist.

"Second Story Sunlight", 1960
Oil on canvas, 101.6 x 127 cm

The exhibit articulates in seven sections that start from the beginnings and go across all his artistic evolution. There you can see some juvenile artworks realized as an illustrator, the Parisian period, some etchings, the maturity period with some of the most known paintings, some artworks of erotic theme, and above all much side materials, as preparatory sketches, notes, notebooks and the likes.
There is also a video about the Artist, of the duration of half a hour and subtitled in Italian, which we have skipped cause of the great overcrowding of the small room and however it was without audio.

"Reclining Nude", c.1924-1927
Watercolour on paper, 35 x 50 cm

There are also two particular didactic and interactive installations.
The first one on the path is a "ledger-book" of Hopper, which pages one can virtually turn through a kiosk with touch-screen video (the book is partially visible also in the site of the Whitney Museum ).
The second and more curious one, above all for children, is a life-sized set that reproduces (to tell the truth in a quite clumsy way) the artwork "Morning Sun" where it is possible to lay inside and pose like the woman that is portrayed (the Artist's wife), letting one to be photographed by a friend and above all to be portrayed by the exhibition's video-camera: indeed this set is an installation entitled "Friday, 29th Augusts 1952, 6 A.M., New York" by Gustav Deutsch, an Austrian film-maker and Videoartist; this is just one of the installations that reproduce several artworks by Hopper, of which there are instead some scale models.

"Morning Sun", 1952 , oil on canvas, 71.5 x 102 cm and the relative set installed at the exhibition

The exhibition course is rather long, but when arrived at the end of the exhibit only remains the feeling to have not seen much: of some of the most notorious artworks of the Artist there are just some sketches, there are a lot of missing artworks that by now are in the imaginary of many people, even not connoisseurs of Hopper, like "People In The Sun" or "Nighthawks"; also the numerous artworks of interiors with people are shown in a really small number. Instead there are some very suggestive monochrome oils realized in the juvenile period.

"Solitary Figure in a Theater"
c.1902-1904, oil on board

At the exit of the exhibition course there are some didactic workstations and some memorabilia of the epoch. The catalogue edited by Skira is ordinary though complete, priced 35€ at the bookshop.


This exhibition counts more than 160 artworks, which however are mostly preparatory sketches; therefore this show can hardly be considered the first great Italian exhibition on Hopper.
It is certainly suitable for a public that already well knows Hopper and wants to deepen the knowledge of this Artist through further material of study.
The ticket price is rather high considering that there are no cumulative discounts for the visit of the many exhibitions that are present in the same period at Palazzo Reale: in one day it is possible to visit at least two of these exhibitions.
From the learning and informative point of view, it does not offer much more than what can be seen also in the site of the exhibition and generally in internet, obviously apart the chance to close examine the particular technique with which the Artist worked the oil colour in the maturity's paintings.

"I find linseed oil and white lead the most satisfactory mediums.", Edward Hopper

Jizaino -

Read also: review of Cina - Rinascita contemporanea at Palazzo Reale in the same period.