New York, Dec 6 2013: “East Wind Over Weehawken”— an art work capturing the bleak reality and the loneliness of the depression era America in 1934 by reality painter Edward Hopper created a sale record at Christie’s Dec 5 sale of American modern classics in New York. The oil painting fetched the auction house $40,485,000 (₤24,695,850/ €29,554,050).
The artist painted iconic 1934 streetscape of a New Jersey suburb soon after a retrospective exhibition of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1933— in the depression era when the American and European economies were affected by an economic slump in the run-up to the World War II. It was a pivotal moment in the artist’s career after his solo exposition at MoMA.
The auction house said the art work belonged to the collection of depression-era American art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).
The work is Spartan and silent — characterised by the isolation, melancholy and gloom of depression in dull shades. The buildings are underscored by a gray sky and brooding hues of blue, black, brown and ochre. The lifeless and dull rows of “seemingly” desolate building blocks lining a street intersection combines with a suspended narrative — a story interrupted in telling — lends it the distinct Hooper touch, setting him apart from his contemporaries.
The proceeds from the sale will be used to support the creation of new fund for the purchase of artworks to expand the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and the school of art.
Hopper’s works have been driving auction sale for the last one year. Experts of American art at Christie’s say “the renewed demand for Hopper’s works is driven by the masterpiece quality of his art”. In May 2013, “Blackwell Island” — a view of the skyline of the island from beyond a blue expanse of water in his signature photo-realistic style with the ear’s expressionistic influences— sold for $19,163,750, a record then. It was recently announced that the work will soon join the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. In the same sale, Hopper’s “Kelly Jenness House” achieved $ 4.1 million, another world auction record for a work on paper by the artist.
The previous season, in November of 2012, “October on Cape Cod” sold for $9.6 million, setting the world record for art sold online at any international auction house.
Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was an American realist painter and printmaker. While he was famous for his landscapes in oil, he was an accomplished watercolorist, printmaker and etching artist. His “meticulous depiction” of the urban and rural surroundings often conveyed his personal vision of modern American life.