Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Bare Arms of Trees

(Automat, 1927 by Edward Hopper, 1892-1967, American
painter and printmaker; an automat is a cafeteria where
prepared foods are dispensed in vending machines)

“Edward Hopper belongs to a particular category of artist whose work appears sad but does not make us sad — the painterly counterpart to Bach or Leonard Cohen. Loneliness is the dominant theme in his art. His figures look as though they are far from home. They stand reading a letter beside a hotel bed or drinking in a bar. They gaze out of the window of a moving train or read a book in a hotel lobby. Their faces are vulnerable and introspective. They may have just left someone or been left. They are in search of work, sex or company, adrift in transient places. It is often night, and through the window lie the darkness and threat of the open country or of a strange city.

“Yet despite the bleakness Hopper’s paintings depict, they are not themselves bleak to look at — perhaps because they allow us as viewers to witness an echo of our own griefs and disappointments, and thereby to feel less personally persecuted and beset by them. It is sad books that console us most when we are sad, and the pictures of lonely service stations that we should hang on our walls when there is no one to hold or love.”

~ Alain de Botton, born in 1969, Swiss essayist, from “The Pleasures of Sadness” in the Summer 2004 issue of the art magazine
Tate Etc.


Sometimes when I see the bare arms of trees in the evening
I think of men who have died without love,
Of desolation and space between branch and branch.
I think of immovable whiteness and lean coldness and fear
And the terrible longing between people stretched apart as these branches
And the cold space between.
I think of the vastness and courage between this step and that step,
Of the yearning and the fear of the meeting, of the terrible desire held apart.
I think of the ocean of longing that moves between land and land
And between people, the space and ocean.
The bare arms of the trees are immovable, without the play of leaves, without the sound of wind;
I think of the unseen love and the unknown thoughts that exist between tree and tree,
As I pass these things in the evening, as I walk.

~ John Tagliabue (1923-2006), American poet

1 comment:

Pentimento said...

This is thrillingly wonderful, and so is the excerpt from the essay you quote.