December 2006


Hopper vs. Wyeth

To the Editors:

I found your August issue most interesting. Among other things, I enjoyed viewing some of Edward Hopper's works (see Notes & Comments, "An American Realist")--especially his New York Movie, which depicts a female usher lost in thought in a 1930s theater while the movie is being screened. (You referred to it as a highlight of the current exhibition of his work at New York's Whitney Museum.)

Hopper manages to evoke a range of emotions in very simple, common scenes. In some respects he seems to be the urban counterpart to Andrew Wyeth, whose scenes are predominantly rural. However, for some reason that we can't fully explain, both my wife and I find Wyeth fairly "cold" and nonexpressive. (Here we differ with Louis Torres's positive assessment in "America's Greatest Living Painter" in your June Notes & Comments.)

Perhaps it's Wyeth's choice of flat earthy colors, or the blandness and stoicism we see in the faces of his subjects (especially his German neighbors). Wyeth had big shoes to fill--particularly those of his father, N.C., who is one of the greatest illustrators and whose works we adore. In any case, Hopper's works seem more alive and personal to us than Andrew Wyeth's, perhaps because they include more people and through their urban setting have more variety.

Kurt Leininger
Malvern, Penn.