Friday, January 7, 2011

Edward Hopper at the Whitney

I flew back to NYC last night to get my mum safely on the Aer Lingus back to Dublin. This morning I was lying in bed at the New Yorker hotel reading the book I got for the flight William Gibson's Spook Country when to my surprise I found that two of the protagonists in the novel were also staying in the New Yorker. They woke up early and went to Gray's Papaya to get the "two hot dog and juice special" for breakfast. I couldn't help myself so I also went a couple of blocks north to Gray's Papaya and got the same breakfast. And it wasn't a half bad way to spend two bucks. 
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After breakfast I walked up to the Neue Gallerie on 86th Street to see the Klimt collection there and then I walked down Madison to the Whitney where I was just in time to get the tour of the new Edward Hopper exhibition. I'm not sure I agree with all the strained interpretations our guide put on Hopper's paintings, but I do think that he is the master of twentieth century ennui and isolation. At the beginning of the century EM Forster urged us to "only connect!" with our fellow human beings. Hopper shows us that these connections are very difficult if not impossible. Nobody knows what's going on in someone's else head no matter how psychologically astute they are. People rub against one another in unpredictable ways. Leonard Cohen has said that the years he spent in a Buddhist monastery were among the most stressful of his life. Hopper's bleakly beautiful landscapes and interiors highlight this grim truth about human beings: we seek out company and company makes us crazy.  
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A little further down from the Whitney I popped into the Frick where they were hosting an exhibition of Spanish drawings. I'm a big Goya fan and I loved the intimacy of this little gallery.
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Flying back to Florida tomorrow unless the incoming snow storm keeps me here for another couple of days in which case I'll take a deep breath and hit the Met.