New York Photo Review
from the NYPR Archives

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine


Like the surrealists, Hopper was a visionary. Yet unlike them he did not turn away from what is in favor of what is imagined. The modern master of interior light and the interplay between interior and exterior spaces, Hopper revels in light both for its own sake and for its metaphorical implications. The relationship of light to that which is illuminated, be it a building, a woman, a gas pump is always central. At the heart of tangible reality lies something intangible: the human psyche, which permeates things, spaces, and light, as well as people.

Unlike painting’s great modern stylists—Picasso, Braque, Miro, Gorky, Pollack, etc.– who have each evolved idiosyncratic ways of making marks on canvas, Hopper’s marks are modest, even ordinary. His genius is for content and content that can be copied. Nothing in the way he applied paint distinguishes him. Yet, painting allowed him to fine-tune his vision of isolation and light. By eliminating too much detail and generalizing faces, Hopper bequeathed to his realism, the quality of a waking dream.

Looking at these paintings I asked myself: What is done here that could not be done with the camera? The color, the composition, the feeling for light and for the moment—all of it could be comprehended by the camera. And has been, often, in innumerable imitations.

Yet, perhaps, there is in the mood of these paintings something beyond photography with its scrupulous detail, its zealous exactitude.

Compare his work to the Lisette Model on the wall. One feels the gravitational pull of the photograph, it earthbound power, its fully awakened presence. Whereas the paintings exist in a sort of dream. In Hopper the two realities are commingled and surely for him La Vida es Sueno.

With their masterly compositions, their spatial geometries and planar complexities, their stark color harmonies and cinematic timing, the paintings possess substructures of great sophistication. Though accessible on the level of human feeling to everyone, Hopper’s work offers enormous pleasure to those who would look further, giving it a universality few can claim.

by Barbara Confino

Barbara Confino is an artist and writer whose work is housed in such collections as The Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the British Museum. Her graphic history, The Genetic Wars, can be viewed at www.thegeneticwars.com. Her writings on art and culture have been published in ArtsCanada and The Village Voice among other publications. She is currently associate editor for The New York Photo Review.
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery