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Hopper's early love letters shed new light on the artist

— May 2013

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Edward Hopper House Art Center, 82 N. Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960

Edward Hopper House presents My Dear Mr. Hopper: The Story Starts Here

Curator:Elizabeth Thompson Colleary

Venue: Edward Hopper House Art Center, 82 N. Broadway, Nyack, NY 10960

Exhibition dates: May 18 – October 20, 2013

Edward Hopper House will present an exhibition of 20 original letters from Alta Hilsdale (1884–1948) to Edward Hopper (1882–1967) that document their previously unknown romantic relationship and provide a new context for understanding the work he created during the decade the letters span, 1904–14, and thereafter. Hilsdale, who was from Minnesota and spent time with Hopper in New York and Paris, probably met the artist in New York in 1904. Her first letters were sent to his Nyack home and later to various home and studio addresses in Paris and New York City.

Reverend Arthayer Sanborn, a friend of Edward and Josephine Hopper, discovered the letters in the attic of the house in Nyack after the artist’s death.  According to exhibition curator Elizabeth Thompson Colleary:

the letters dispel the myth of his reclusive life during his Paris years and allow us to reconsider some of the art Hopper produced from 1904 to 1914 as well as in subsequent years.   

‘My Dear Mr. Hopper: The Story Starts Here’ begins with original art from the artist’s childhood and youth, which provides insight into his earliest creative activity. It was in Nyack that he grew to be the talented young man who sailed off to Paris, eager to find his place in the artistic milieu of his day, while knowing that Alta was awaiting his arrival.

The exhibit then presents the original letters from Hilsdale alongside reproductions of work Hopper created during their relationship to illustrate the autobiographical nature of the art and demonstrate how the works from ‘the Alta years’ influenced later masterworks.

The complete collection of letters will be presented for the first time in My Dear Mr. Hopper, edited and with an Introduction by Elizabeth Thompson Colleary, published by the Whitney Museum of American Art in association with Yale University Press. The book will be released in May.

This exhibition is made possible with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

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