Choosing works to acquire for a museum and choosing works to live with at home can sometimes be very similar types of collecting. A museum acquires new works that teach, fill a gap, enhance the collections already in hand, tell a story, or are just aesthetically beautiful objects of the highest quality. Collectors are usually looking for some or all of the same attributes in what they choose for their homes. We are very fortunate that this group of gifts and loans from a generous donor, covering a wide range of media and styles from Europe and America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, fills all of the Museum’s criteria. As a group, they make interesting comparisons and connections. And yet, each of the individual pieces was chosen with great care and stands out by itself, a gem representing a certain period of art by an accomplished artist.
Within this particular display, there is one subset that stands out as of particular interest—the works on paper by Edward Hopper. Hopper is the quintessential American modernist, addressing issues of national importance as the United States emerged from World War I into an era of great industrial changes. What happened in that era is reflected in Hopper’s work as he examines the country on an intimate scale: people became isolated and small towns were abandoned. His empathy is both sincere and appealing, and we come away from his images wary of these changes but in thrall to his accomplishment in portraying them.
We are extremely grateful for these gifts and loans to the Johnson Museum. They are a wonderful legacy for all of us.
Nancy E. Green
Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs