I picked up The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Lang about a week ago, and while I am enjoying it a lot, it’s extremely different than what I was expecting. I remember seeing this book everywhere I looked when I first moved to New York last summer. I wanted to read it then, but had this weird fear that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy that if I read about being lonely in New York, that I would be. News flash, younger me. That’s gonna happen no matter what you read.
My understanding of the book (based on a very light skimming of the back cover description and just general wishes I projected onto this book) was that it was going to be a straight member about a young woman’s journey after moving to New York. Again, this was mostly just based on my wishes for a book that I ultimately want to read and solve all my problems. Turns out, this book has a strong art-history twist, where each chapter focuses on a different 20th century artist who lived in New York. The first two artists are Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol, respectively.
I’ve always really loved Hopper, but never really thought about him being a strong influence in the work that I make. Reading about his experiences in New York and going more in depth with his paintings made me realize that my now year-long obsession of drawing apartment buildings and especially the window/frames is strongly based on the same themes Hopper works with. He apparently would go on long walks through the city, looking at the buildings and windows to get inspiration.
You know where just-so-happens to have a massive collection of Hopper paintings? The Whitney Museum of Art, a short subway trip away from my apartment. Naturally, I had to go visit. I’m trying to wrack my brain to remember when I had ever been to the Whitney before, because SURELY I must have been there at least once already, but maybe not because I didn’t recognize any of it.
And WOULDN’T YOU KNOW, they are gearing up right now for a massive Andy Warhol exhibit! Perfect serendipity. The exhibit doesn’t open until November but they let you get a sneak peak at it, and now I have the opening date scheduled in my calendar because this is going to be an amazing show.
I also got to see some of my main guy of the day, Edward Hopper. The Whitney’s permanent collection is huge, and they are a very show-based institution, so only a small sampling of their permanent works are on display at any one time. Lucky for me they five of his works out, and a great selection of work by other artists that had me walking around the museum for literally 4 hours.
I love when books inspire me to actually go out into the world and do something, especially if it’s something concerning art. I can’t believe I seem to have never been to the Whitney before, but I now have plans to go back, and am hoping to take one of their workshops this winter too!
What are you currently reading? I actually love reading about art and art history, so if you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments below!
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