Seoul Museum of Art partners with the Whitney Museum of American Art for Edward Hopper exhibition

2023.07.05 23:05:50 Hoonsung Lee

[Chop Suey (1929). Photo Credit to commons wikimedia]

The Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) has partnered with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, to launch a special exhibition titled “Edward Hopper: From City to Coast”.

Since 2019, SeMA, in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art and other institutions, has been planning the exhibit to introduce Edward Hopper's artwork to Korean audiences.

The exhibit is part of SeMA’s “Masterpieces from Overseas Collections” series, in which SeMA “introduces renowned masterpieces in cooperation with leading overseas art institutions”.

The exhibit opened on April 20th, in the Seosomun Art Museum, the SeMa’s flagship museum,and plans to end on August 20th, 2023.

Despite the limited time frame of four months and a limit of 4 tickets per group, the exhibit has become a major success, with most tickets selling out over the last few weeks. 

The exhibit spans across all three floors of the museum due to the immense amount of artworks displayed.

An astonishing 270 pieces of art, including paintings, drawings, prints and archives, are categorized into eight sections representing Hopper’s personal life and artistic style. 

According to SeMA, this exhibition is the “first solo exhibition on Edward Hopper in Korea”.

Furthermore, all 270 of Hopper’s works, excluding (1929), are on display in Korea for the first time. 

These include (1960), which Hopper himself has described as one of his favorite paintings, and (1930-1933), which was displayed in the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency.

The exhibition also includes the full version of (2022), a documentary that reflects on the personal life and artistic universe of Hopper.

The first part of the exhibition focuses on the early days of Hopper in his hometown of Nyack, New York.

He studied art and literature in the New York School of Illustrating and the ​​New York School of Art under pioneers of American realism such as Robert Henri. 

Hopper then moved to Paris in search of new subject matters and inspiration.

Back in the 20th century, Paris was regarded as the center of art; a stark difference from New York, which was in constant development at the time. 

While traveling Paris and other European countries, Hopper developed his own artistic style, which greatly emphasizes contrast between light and darkness, and also architectural designs, in order to paint impressionist style artworks. 

In Paris, he created many of his central pieces of art, such as (1909) and (1914), both of which are on display in the SeMa exhibition. 

Finally, after returning to New York,  Hopper married Josephine Nivison, who would later become his greatest supporter by meticulously documenting all of Hopper’s artwork for the next 30 years.

These documents, which recorded Hopper’s artwork, exhibitions, and sales, would later prove invaluable in evaluating Hopper’s style and life. 

These ledger books, which were donated by Josephine Hopper to the Whitney Museum along with 2,500 of Hopper’s work after his death, are also on display at SeMA.

Hopper famously once said that “the most important thing … is the sense of going on”. “Edward Hopper: From City to Coast” not only reflects this personal philosophy, but also “offer[s] sympathy and solace” to modern day citizens, who are often overwhelmed by the rapidly changing environment around them. 

Hoonsung Lee / Grade 10
Cornerstone Collegiate Academy Seoul