Monday, March 26, 2012
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has purchased the painting Intermission, by American artist Edward Hopper. The piece, created in 1963, is one of the last paintings created by Hopper.
Hopper’s realist style, which visually examined American urban and rural life in the first half of the 20th century, made him one of the most influential and important American artists of the modern era. The painting, which was sold by a private collector, is believed to be valued at over $25 million.
Intermission shows a woman sitting alone in the front row of a theater. The theater is empty, and is described, by San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker as expressing emotion and social isolation, a standard theme in Hopper’s works. The inspiration for the painting came to Hopper while he was watching a film.
Hopper’s wife, Josephine, had scheduled Hopper to create the painting in a theater, however Hopper would complete the painting at his studio in New York City. Original sketches of Intermission show a second person sitting in the third row — a figure that never made it into the final painting. Baker calls Intermission a “prime example of Hopper’s austere realist vision”.
|[This is] a necessary practice in an art market where prices for historically important art continue to rise steeply.|
SFMOMA will not disclose how much they paid for Intermission. When the painting Hotel Window, which is of similar size and from the same period, sold at auction in 2006, it sold for $26.9 million. It is believed that “Inspiration” is worth just as much, if not more. Intermission was purchased with the help of donor funds, and acquired through the San Francisco-based Fraenkel Gallery, which sold if on behalf of a private collector.
In exchange for the acquisition of Intermission, SFMOMA is selling another Hopper painting: Bridal Path, from 1939. A lesser known work of Hopper’s, Bridal Path shows a horseback riding path in Central Park. By selling Bridal Path, SFMOMA is able to help fund the acquisition of the more well known Intermission. This practice is slowly gaining popularity within a museum and art market that previously disapproved of the sale of lesser known works for more popular acquisitions. Baker acknowledges the past practices, but believes that this is “a necessary practice in an art market where prices for historically important art continue to rise steeply.”
Intermission goes on display for the public on Friday, at SFMOMA.