Tony Oursler: hopped (popped), a new installation inspired by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper House
Nov 29, 2013 8:51PM

The Edward Hopper House presents a new intallation by multi-media artist Tony Oursler (b. 1957) from October 26, 2013 through January 5, 2014.  

Like Edward Hopper, Tony Oursler (b. 1957) grew up in Nyack, just down the road from the Edward Hopper House.  Having spent his childhood exploring the same landscape from which Hopper drew his early inspiration, Oursler is uniquely poised to extend the framework of Hopper’s imagery into a combination of 2D, 3D, and moving image. 

For hopped (popped), Oursler has created five video installations to be specifically installed in the rooms of the Edward Hopper House, using Edward Hopper’s caricatures as a point of departure.  These lesser-known drawings reveal a more improvisational, humorous approach, which Oursler sees as a potential bridge between the anarchic 1960s and ‘70s and the suburban landscape and somber quietude of Hopper’s melancholia.

The scenes in the videos were shot in the landscapes around Nyack and are comprised in part of reenactments featuring the artist’s friends and relatives, including three generations of his family.   Oursler’s mother and father can be seen to represent Edward and Jo Hopper.  These figures are conflated with Oursler’s memories of various locations from his past, including the banks of the Hudson River, the rocky landscape along the river at Hook Mt., and Route 9W.  The characters chant and harangue with fractured poetic dialogue. 

Oursler also includes objects that have a personal history for him and focuses on anecdotes, such as the theft and return of a brass bed in the early 1970s when the Edward Hopper House was in disrepair.   The paintings in the installation were created by the­ artist’s great aunt and her art students.  Oursler speculates that Edward Hopper’s work inspired these Sunday painters to pick up the brush.  Here these canvases from the ‘60s and ‘70s are reborn as projection screens and sculptural objects within the exhibition.

Thematically, Oursler is responding to the deeply psychological spaces of Hopper’s paintings.  He looks at the alteration of the suburban space over time, from the Hudson River School in the 19th century to the 1960s and ‘70s as well as today.  Upstate New York was idealized by the Hudson River School painters and has long been a site of utopian fantasy.  Oursler sees Hopper’s paintings as a counterpoint to this perspective as he explores­­­ the tension between these two extremes at a time when psychedelia became transposed onto the somber landscape.

This exhibition was made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Read about the exhibition in The New York Times>>

Edward Hopper House