Seat of the muses

The muses inspire us, and we each have our own muses and inspirations. My inspirations include the work of painters, notably John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper, two American painters of, respectively, the 19th/20th and 20th century.

Here’s a Hopper, “Morning”:

And when I say I am inspired by Hopper, I mean not that I copy him, but that he evokes certain feelings (like a combination of “alienation” and “nostalgia”), and places, and times in me. Hopper is an easy artist to admire.

But it is also easy to recognize similarities. Like in this recent photo:

The moment I took that I was struck by the many obvious similarities to the above Hopper: similarities in shapes, colours, and subject; even in mood.

Do you see them? And do you feel them like I do? Perhaps, and perhaps not. The first one is a good thing: that is what learning art is all about. The second one, feeling them a I do, is not necessary, not even desirable: we should not all be struck by the same things.

But seeing them, that is what “learning” art is about. And appreciating the basis of good art, like simplicity. Since the above picture is art, not photojournalistic, I feel free to make changes in post-production. What change did I make to this picture? I removed a line in front of the subject’s face:

Can you see how distracting that is? So the objective part of creating art is that sort of thing: no-one can argue with me that that line is not distracting: it should go. The subjective part is the appreciation of the art itself, and there we can differ.

Oh, and that “seat of the muses” in the title? That is what “museum” means, and that is where you will find Hopper and Singer Sargent; and that is where you can go for inspiration.


2 thoughts on “Seat of the muses

  1. two part comment.
    1. more please! please! this stretch into art and feeling is terrific and welcomed in your subject matter here on speedlighter.
    >Do you see them? And do you feel them ?
    Well no. I have no awareness of Hopper. where do I go to gain more of this, just the museum?
    But you have provided one here. More please! please!

    2. you have written about IP and ownership before. How are you able to post a Hopper photo on your site? no (c), no reference, no link?

    • Hi! I appreciate the positive thoughts: thanks a lot. Yes, we sometimes forget we do this because photography is an art form, not just a trade or a technical skill.

      Copyright belongs to, I assume, the Hopper estate, but this kind of mention and copying is covered by “Fair Use”.

      I think you may well know “Night Hawks”, Hopper’s most famous work. Look here:

      I shall answer this more in tomorrow’s blog post, since you raise such interesting points.

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