Be prepared to fall in love with Edward Hopper all over again. You might even have had a poster of one of his night scenes in your college dorm room. In the new show of his work and that of some 30 other Hopper contemporaries, Hopper (1882-1967) still emerges as one of the most compelling artists of the last century. "Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time" is at the Whitney which supposedly has some 3,000 Hopper works given by his wife Jo, also an art student and the model for most of the women in his paintings.
The show covers American realism from roughly 1900-1940 and documents the way Hopper and his "friends" rebelled against the academic art that dominated Europe. No more lovely scenes of parks and posh picnics along the Seine, Hopper and his contemporaries -- William Glackens, George Bellow, Thomas Hart Benton to name just a few whose works are on view --- painted everyday scenes. They were drawn to tugboats, bridges, railroad cars, the new skyscrapers. But unlike his contemporaries, Hopper disliked regionalism which made a caricature of America. He advocated an "American art that transcended national, local, and regional traits," according to the sumptuous show catalog.