From John Elliott, Librarian & Head of Technical Serivices
When Covid-19 commenced its bleak grip on all of us, I read Albert Camus' La Peste, in French, and that was amusing. It was like taking a college French class, one where you read a chapter a night, on top of everything else you’re reading. That book is prescient in the nth, and explores such tops as the struggle between "selflessness vs. selfishness," which in our own day translates to wearing a face mask in public, or not wearing a mask in public.
As our plague wore on, I decided to go back to painting, something I used to do in now what seems like a previous life, and have taken to it hammer and tongs.
This fortuitous choice led me back to my favorite American painter, Edward Hopper, our poet of solitude, what with his depictions of empty streets, the insides of movie houses, diners, bars, hotels. His paintings are the antidote to the cheap feel good that passes for culture in America, and they remind us how sometimes, we are really alone.
Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
Two weeks ago, at Paul's Books, on State Street, I found a copy of Edward Hopper and the American Imagination. Half the book is devoted to essays by Ann Beattie, John Hollander, William Kennedy, and Grace Paley, Norman Mailer and the like. I read a few, but none, so far, seemed any more insightful than anything I could conjure up. But the second half of the book is filled with excellent, and sharp, reproductions of many of his beloved paintings.
In the mail, yesterday, was Edward Hopper: A Fresh Look at Landscape. It was published in conjunction with the big Hopper exhibition in Switzerland this year. It was a little pricey, but it looks just gorgeous. I can't wait to read it.
Due to Covid-19, you really can't go anywhere now. It's getting colder. Might as well read art books.
Oscar Rennebohm Library959 Edgewood College Drive - Madison, WI 53711608-663-3300