Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hopper and Herzog

My favorite painter is Edward Hopper, and I have this picture, which a very dear friend gave me for Christmas. I look at it every day, and every day I see something different in the painting. Edward Hopper loved geometrical design, and he often worked on several sketches of a painting to get the geometry of it just right before he completed the finished painting. He would often do as many as 40 or 50 sketches before he was satisified with the composition. The thing that appeals to me about Edward Hopper's paintings is the use of light and shadow. It fits in very much with the geometry of his paintings, and creates a very strong mood. However, Hopper insisted “I was more interested in the sunlight on the buildings and on the figures than any symbolism."

Yesterday one of our blogging friends posted a comment that reminded me of how similar Hopper's paintings are to one of our local photographers, Fred Herzog. The geometrical lines are similar; the light and shadow, mood, subject matter and colors are all very similar. Fred Herzog is an acclaimed photographer and his photographs have been exhibited in art galleries all over the world, and featured here in the New Yorker Magazine. Herzog gave a lecture at the University of British Columbia recently, and he said, “The picture has to be in your head, not in your camera bag.” I often think about that when I see people PhotoShopping their photographs. In my opinion, those pictures are no longer photographs. Herzog also says, “To me, the city is a stage and the people on the streets are all actors. We need to record how people look in their natural state…it’s the reality of how we look.” I think Hopper and Herzog had very much the same philosophy.

Here are some more examples of the similarities between the two artists, one a photographer, the other a painter, both of whom are wonderful. I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do. I haven't given any of them labels, so perhaps (without clicking on them) you can guess which are the paintings and which are the photographs. One of them in particular might surprise you.











21 comments:

DUTA said...

My guess - the photos are : the first (man in long coat), the third (cigaretts ad.), the fifth (green door, yellow ad., tall, bearded man with hat).

Jo said...

DUTA, you're correct. They're very similar, though, aren't they?

DUTA said...

Yes Jo, they are, especially to me as I know very little about painting.

Owen said...

Jo, what a beautiful tribute to Hopper and Herzog, they are two extraordinary artists... and you are one extraordinary blogger ! I just love the profound nostalgia in Herzog's photographs...

Jo said...

DUTA, I have a feeling you have an instinct, though.

Owen, thank you. Isn't Herzog amazing? And I have walked along some of those gritty streets in his photos, and many of them still look the same. And thank you for reminding me of Herzog!

Leslie: said...

Awesome! That could be you and me in that first picture - having a cup of tea somewhere. Hope you're having a great Mother's Day. :D

Leah Fry said...

You have an excellent eye for composition, light and shadow. I enjoyed this post.

TheChicGeek said...

Jo, I love the photos and pictures. You have great taste in art!
Just wanted to stop by and wish you a Very Happy Mother's Day!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

The similarity in style is quite striking. I got fooled by the first photo.

The Sagittarian said...

Great photos, and I like that the paintings are "uncluttered". Very nice indeed.

Jo said...

Leslie, yes, it could! :-) Mother's Day was wonderful. I hope yours was too.

Leah, thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-)

TheChicGeek, Happy Mother's Day to you too. And thank you!

LGS, I get fooled by the first picture every time I look at it. Aren't the paintings and photographs fabulous!?

The Sagittarian, aren't the paintings and photos wonderful? I never get tired of looking at them.

Lorna said...

Jo-- this is so very interesting and yes, I do see the similarities and I also like the work because it is so interesting!

You know what? The way you compare artists and photographers, or artists and artists, etc, is *somewhat* similar to the way I compare the same movie script interpreted by different actors and directors.

One example:

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses/Dangerous Liaisons” directed by Stephen Frears, starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich and the earlier “Valmont” directed by Milos Forman starring Annette Bening and Colin firth.

Another example:

“Cape Fear” directed by J. Lee Thompson, starring Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck

and

“Cape Fear” directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert DiNiro and Nick Nolte.


~~Lorna,who will someday post on this topic

Lorna said...

Jo, now that I have looked at the pictures again, I still believe them to be highly interesting and thought provoking but now, I have fallen into that old *petit3 bourgeoisie* habit of preferring not-so-depressing pictures on my walls. I realize that this is not the way that artists think, and that Happy Scenes On The Wall are not necessarily art, but that's me.

Maybe me being Hawaii born and raised and wanting thick lush green plants has something to do with it......... and I am wondering why my Asian bloodlines didn't kick in and want me to have more sombre pictures.........

Hopeless me.



--Lorna

Butler and Bagman said...

I am in awe of Fred Herzog's ability to capture/create with photography such a unique and continuous style. Yes, it is Hopperish and I've always like Hopper...but it is almost more interesting in photography somehow. Whatever techniques he uses (whether film or more likely photoshop) he has to find and capture the starting image first and to know what he is going to do with it in advance. Very cool.

Russell said...

I am no artist -- far, far from it! However, what I notice with both of these men is their use of shadows.

The shadows seem to accentuate the rather demure tenor of the works. I like the subtlety of these pieces a great deal.

Great comparison! Take care.

nomore said...

Beautiful..Photos! It's always a Beautiful blog too !

Deedee said...

Yes, it's all about the light and shadow. It's what makes them so compelling.

Sado said...

I love Hopper. His work always fascinates.
They are indeed very similar. Thanks for introducing this photographer to me :)

Jo said...

Lorna, yes, I often see similarities in plots of books or movies as well. You should do a post about it. I would love to read it.

B&B, well, thank goodness Photoshop did not exist when Fred Herzog first began taking his wonderful photographs. I don't know if he uses it now, but he is a wonderful photographer,isn't he?

Russell, yes! I love the shadow and light in both these artists. Shadow and light are my favorite things to paint as well. It provides such drama, doesn't it? You have a good eye.

Nomore, thank you, and thank you! :-)

Deedee, yes, the light and shadow, and the angles. Beautiful, aren't they?

Sado, they are very similar aren't they? I love their work.

Paula Slade said...

I too like Hopper's work. Very interesting comparison.

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