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Edward Hopper and Urban Realism


The Columbia Museum of Art hosts an exceptional exhibition of one of America's quintessential realist painters -- Edward Hopper. Opening on October 4, 2003 and on view through January 18, 2004, Edward Hopper and Urban Realism highlights paintings by Hopper from the early part of the 20th century to the establishment of the American Scene movement in the 1930s -- the height of American realism's popularity.

Drawn entirely from the Whitney Museum of American Art's preeminent collection, this exhibition presents the work of Hopper alongside paintings by his peers - those artists who documented and explored the many faces of life in the changing urban environment between 1900 and 1940. Edward Hopper and Urban Realism also includes works by Robert Henri, George Luks, John Sloan, William Glackens, Stuart Davis, Reginald Marsh, Everett Shinn and George Bellows, among others. The efforts of these artists to capture the gritty reality of urban life mark the beginning of a revitalization of the realist tradition in this country that would continue well into the 1940s. Though these artists' works represent many different approaches, collectively they express the persistent allure of the city in American life.

This is a noteworthy exhibition because of the rarity of the early Hopper paintings and the strong work of his fellow Ashcan painters -- a group of painters, headed by Robert Henri. Known for their picturesque and spirited subjects of teeming city life and socially minded themes, these artists created a movement that helped form a new identity that reflected and celebrated the American values and ingenuity of modern times. According to Kathy Zimmerer in and article for ArtScene "Many of these artists were students of Robert Henri, who is known for his loose brushstrokes and deep, luminous colors. Henri encouraged his students to look at the urban scene with a new realism shorn of the stiff trappings of academic style. The artists' portrayals of the endlessly fascinating vistas of a vibrant and bustling city earned them such contemporary labels as the 'Apostles of Ugliness' and the 'Ash Can School.' "

This exhibition was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The Columbia presentation is made possible by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, L.L.P. and BB&T Corp.

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