Can there be a more glorious way to spend a birthday than by staring at seventy oil paintings by an iconic American painter?* My favorite Hopper painting in the exhibit is “Room in Brookland
.” Hopper somehow makes the 1920s seem less chic, more forlorn. The woman is looking at the horizontal cityscape out the window. Her stylish flapper bob somehow becomes less chic. Her hair looks shorn and her neck looks cold and exposed. The fussy table of pink roses in a bare room shows a longing for the fussiness of the Victorian period.
In “Chop Suey, the face paint on the girls' faces is repugnant. The lines of mascara and lipstick are driven into layers and layers of thick oil paint. The girl’s chic beaver coat seems to hang indistinguishable on the wall.
The interplay between light and the city architecture is fantastic. As I walked around the city later, I couldn’t help but notice how wonderful all the Romanesque columns looked against the blue sky. I couldn’t relate to the negative views that the city is filled with emptiness and strangers. Without my children and husband, I felt that the city was so friendly on Monday- lots of tourists with little babies and happy expressions everywhere.
The funniest line I overheard in the Edward Hopper gift shop was “I’m looking for the magnet with the sailing boat on it. I don’t really like his other more-Hopperesq paintings.” That line made me laugh out loud as I paid for my post-cards. The Hopper exhibit is open at the National Gallery until January 21. Afterwards, it heads to Chicago.
Check out “Nighthawks” in person if you have the chance.
*(Even more glorious is to come home and realize that your husband, who didn’t know how to separate egg whites, has miraculously make a three-tired coconut cake from scratch! He even used a double boiler for homemade icing. (The coconut birthday cake is a new tradition we revived in honor of my great-grandmother Mabel who used to make them yearly for my 92-year-old grandfather. )