Phaidon | 264 pages | $69.95
Edward Hopper, who was the subject of a major retrospective this summer at the Museum of Fine Arts, is America’s dark poet, the creator of the iconic Nighthawks, a man who painted film noir before the cinema discovered it. The MFA’s exhibition catalogue treated him with major-American-artist respect; this monologue by former California State University professor Walter Wells probes the shadows and the erotic underbelly of Hopper’s America — and of Hopper himself — in works that weren’t part of the MFA show (New York Pavements, with its nun pushing a perambulator; The Lee Shore, with its nightmarishly oversize fleeing boat) and works that were (the girl in Summertime is not a prostitute, so what’s with the see-through bra?). Part of that examination is a hard look at the relationship between Hopper and his wife, Jo. From Jo’s diary: “I couldn’t help being a virgin when he married me, & if I hadn’t been he wouldn’t have wanted to marry me anyway.” If you suspected there’s more to Hopper than the MFA let on — or even if you didn’t — this is the book for you.
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