Saturday, November 05, 2011

`A Realization of the Poignancy of Light'

The morning was clear and bright. The unaccustomed chill lent a New England crispness to an autumn morning in Houston. A shaft of sunlight flickered through the live oak behind the house and illuminated a patch of wooden deck. Casting small shadows across the grain of the wood were two fallen leaves and a stick – a random still life of unexpected beauty and, true to the season, wistfulness.

In 2009, the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco published Edward Hopper & Company, a collection of three Hopper oils, four watercolors and three drawings, accompanied by forty-four photographs taken by eight photographers. In his introduction, Jeffrey Fraenkel explains that none is a “Hopper imitator.” Rather, the photographers are “artists who had found aspects of Hopper’s spirit echoing in their own sensibilities.”

The pictures in the volume are selected and organized with remarkably good taste. One of the photographers, Robert Adams, famed for his depiction of the “New West,” contributes a brief essay, “The Difference a Painter Makes.” He describes growing up in New Jersey and moving with his family at age 12 to Wisconsin, where he first saw Hopper’s paintings in a magazine:

“The pictures were a comfort but of course none could permanently transport me home. In the months that followed, however, they began to give me something lasting, a realization of the poignancy of light. With it, all places were interesting.”

In this video, Adams talks about the centrality of light, as energy and metaphor, to human life. In “Celebration” (Taken in Faith, 2002), Helen Pinkerton writes:

“In this loved scene being and essence shine,
It is and is itself, like Dante’s wheel,
While whole and part, each subatomic spark,
Dependent for existence, undivine,
Disclose the self-existent, first and real.
Light springs from light and not from primal dark.”

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