Solitary figures caught up in silent dramas. Pared down to the bare essentials, the space is real and metaphysical at the same time, bathed in relentless, limpid light. The scene is nearly always deserted and the atmosphere rife with expectancy. Edward Hopper’s human landscapes are as laconic and haunting as his urban or rural landscapes devoid of human presence and sounds.
What man is concealed behind such a piercing vision? In what circumstances were his pictorial dramas generated? A taciturn and introverted artist, Hopper said little about his life. It is largely the diaries and the letters written by his wife Jo during a conjugal symbiosis of over forty years that provide the basis for this monumental biography of one of the great interpreters of the modern American scene, a painter who has left an indelible imprint on posterity both in the visual arts and in cinema. Gail Levin has drawn upon largely unpublished materials to offer a gripping narrative in which the birth of masterpieces alternates with accounts of intimate everyday life lived with Jo in a domestic theatre fraught with attraction and violent conflict, admiration and support, hostility and reconciliation. As the model of his works, intellectual stimulus, an overshadowed artist and his primary champion, Jo Nivison Hopper played a key part in her husband’s success and receives equal prominence in the pages of this book.