Cultural meltdown: 18-24 August 2013 (ZiR)

Edward HopperAlexia Raynal, Zeteo Managing Editor

[One in an ongoing series of posts. For the full series see Zeteo is Reading.]

18 August 2013

I’ve recently heard my friends speak about seemingly “new” neighborhoods. They talk about SoHa and SoBro—which really mean South Harlem and South Bronx. . .the revitalized self in them. I guess they call them that way to avoid negative stereotypes. How would people judge them if they were to speak of the slummy Bronx, or untamed Harlem? I bet they’d rather some modesty. From Henry James’ Washington Square:

These elements of rural picturesqueness have now wholly departed from New York street scenery; but they were to be found within the memory of middle-aged persons, in quarters which now would blush to be reminded of them.

19 August 2013

I’ve become nostalgic of the breezy days of early fall, when everything seems sharp and bright. I feel about to melt down; any energetic impulse seems but an illusion in these (still!) hot and humid days of summer. Perhaps my feelings are better illustrated in Wallace Stevens’ celebrated poem:

The Emperor of Ice Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

20 August 2013

This is how Edward Hopper viewed the world and presented it to others:

Hopper 2

He made notes to remind himself of the mood and colors that dominated the vivid scenes in his drawings. He used these notes to convey personal interpretations. The Whitney Museum of American Art—who’s recently put up an exhibition of Hopper’s drawings (a must-see in your art list)—explains:

Edward Hopper is often described as a realist. And careful observation was very important to him: sometimes he’d make fifty drawings leading up to a single painting. But the final works came out of a long process of selection, synthesis, and—above all—imagination. For Hopper, truth had to do with emotion, rather than visual fidelity to a particular scene. His canvases often convey solitude—a mood too personal to be realistic.

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