The Division of Art History is pleased to host Leo G. Mazow, Associate Professor of Art History at The University of Arkansas. This event is made possible by the Allan and Mary Kollar Chair in American Art History.
A reception in Molly’s Cafe at the Henry Art Gallery will follow the lecture.
Throughout his career Edward Hopper (1882–1967) explored the visual environments of hospitality services, producing paintings, drawings, and illustrations that are as culturally probing as they are formally beguiling. In the 1920s, he designed covers for two widely read hotel trade magazines, and from the 1930s through the 1950s he produced several canonical paintings of hotels and similar sites such as motels, boarding houses, and apartments. Hopper’s hotel and related imagery addresses the promise and complications of American lodging, transportation, and movement in general, as well as the slippage between prosaic and poetic subject matter. Hopper offers a pointed critique of the process by which individuals engage in unyielding flux—an inevitable back-and-forth—when they inhabit these structures. He also calls attention to the shifting status of fine and popular art within the hotel setting, with special focus on the guests’ relationship to wall hangings. For an artist like Hopper who fixated on modern transportation, the hotel subject presents in microcosm the transience that he and countless other observers experienced firsthand from the Depression through the Cold War years. In the end, the artist shows that hotels are like paintings, sites in which to invest oneself temporarily, and upon which to muse at a later time with equal parts introspection and nostalgia.