This is the catalogue of the recently closed Edward Hopper exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and whether you saw the show or not, this volume is a treasure worth buying. Kim Conaty, head curator of the exhibition, has brilliantly traced the line between Hopper the artist and Hopper the New Yorker, buttressing her case with not just his most famous paintings (Nighthawks is reminiscent of a diner Hopper knew on Greenwich Avenue) but dozens of sketches and drawings that show how specific bits of New York became material for paintings that seemed to have no particular geography. Hopper and his wife were passionate New Yorkers, in love with the city they knew and not with the city that was so swiftly changing after World War II. Conaty and her staff deserve applause for fully exploring not just the man and his city but the city within the man.
One morning in March, the author Neil King Jr. stepped out of his house near the U.S. Capitol and started walking to New York City. This was not a spur-of-the-moment thing, such as the time John Gregory Dunne got into his car in Malibu to get a loaf of bread and ended up buying it in San Francisco, nearly 400 miles away. No, this trip was planned very much in advance, with multiple purposes: to escape the toxic politics of the capital, to assess his life after a bout with cancer, to focus on what he saw and whom he met every day, “to shrink my horizons to that of a walking man and to root my views of the world in what I encountered step by step.” The richness and complexity of what he discovered on his 26-day journey make not just for an entertaining and enlightening book but an uplifting one.
Shigeru Ban grew up in Japan loving wooden architecture, thanks to having watched a carpenter constantly expand the Ban family house by adding and extending rooms using wood. As an architect, he and his firm have worked on nearly 70 projects using primarily, if not solely, wood and timber, and each one is a beautiful testament to what one can do with that most natural and earthy material. To stand out in architecture by blending in with your surroundings is Ban’s singular achievement, gorgeously documented in a way that only Rizzoli can do.
Edward Hopper’s New York, American Ramble, and Shigeru Ban are available at your local independent bookstore, on Bookshop, and on Amazon