February 4, 2013

Express Hopper with a surprise

"Romantic sophistication" is the definition that springs to mind. Five ladies under their petit pois umbrellas queueing in the gardens of the magnificient Grand Palais with soft tunes of Adagio di Albinoni playing in the background.

Edward Hopper here we come. We had managed to book our tickets online and were now entering the exhibit "tous Paris" is talking about and for which it was impossible to get tickets. I was also trying to smuggle a rather heavy, purple-silver wrapped birthday present containing a cast iron Le Creuset pancake pan through the security. How would I explain THAT to the guard should he stop me and ask to open it. Much to my surprise the metal detector didn't even peep. Feeling rather chuffed we followed the endless flow of people snaking through the museum.

The first part of the exhibition covers Hopper’s little-known formative years. What intrigued me was that in these early years when he did not sell a painting, believing the U.S. to be crude and insensible to art, Hopper earned his living doing commercial illustrations.

Hopper’s watercolours opened the second major section of the exhibition, which showed the American artist’s emblematic paintings and iconography. My favourite piece was the monumental "Lighthouse Hill", completed in 1927. His paintings capture the light in the most amazing way. Despite Hopper's bright blue sky and seemingly serene subject, his treatment of shadows make the painting somewhat disturbing and uneasy. This work apparently inspired Alfred Hitchcock as well. Seems I'm in good company!?

Meanwhile, my pancake pan was feeling heavier and heavier. Our Flaneuses' Press Officer celebrated her big day and we suprised her with a typical French gift at the end of the exhibition when we had met up with the rest of the group before lunch. Sure, we did receive a few reproaching looks from museum goers, but hey, we're foreigners... we did, however, refrain from singing Happy Birthday under Hoppers' Morning Sun.

I am no connaisseur but I enjoyed my speedy walk though the inspiring Edward Hopper exhibit before I ran off (without lunch) across the Pont de l'Alma where my daughter was waiting to have her face painted - as a naughty monkey - along with 30 of her classmates for a school production. Real life is calling!

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