Wednesday, July 14, 2021

the last book I ever read (Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, excerpt three)

from Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell by Deborah Solomon:

It was believed that there was in fact a resident artist in the Cornell household: not Joseph but his sister Elizabeth. Her mother thought she was uncommonly gifted and sent her to have lessons after spotting an ad an artist had plaeed in the local paper. The artist happened to be Edward Hopper. This was in the summer of 1915, and Hopper, at thirty-three, was eking out a living in illustration. In Nyack he was known mainly as the son of Garret Hopper, who owned a dry-goods store on South Broadway where Eddie had once worked after school. For some time now, Hopper had been living in New York City, but he would return to Nyack on Saturday mornings to teach classes in painting at his parents’ house, where his hovering mother would serve lemonade to his students.

It would be nice to report that Joseph, too, studied with Hopper. It is appealing to imagine them as acquaintances, these two poets of yearning. For all the vast differences between their work, they shared a fascination with empty space and the melancholy feeling it can convey. Is it mere coincidence that both artists were obsessed with hotels? Hopper painted pictures set in hotel rooms, and Cornell would one day make a series of bare-looking Hotel boxes, a motif perhaps at least partly related to their boyhoods spent in the hotel town of Nyack.

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