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Curt Hoppe

Money Shot, Acrylic on Linen, 28x46 inches, 2004

Like so many other artists, Curt Hoppe's first visit to the East End of Long Island was a visual revelation. The realist painter still remembers his first impressions from the trip out along Route 27 with its changing views of windswept fields and tree-lined villages; it was unfamiliar and yet familiar-it was all “picture-perfect,” he said.
The artist's visual impressions of the East End have been lasting ones: “Every time I go out there I look forward to my favorite landmarks. When I see Grace's and stop for a hot dog, I know I'm halfway there. When I pass Schwenk's farm, I know it's only minutes to East Hampton: then I'll drive by Sam's, sometimes at midnight, and look through the window to see my painting in the back of the restaurant, I'm happy to be finally back.”
The East End Landscape with its luminous light has been the inspiration for two schools of American artists. In 1878, a group of New York sketchers and painters called themselves The Tile Club traveled be train to the South Fork of Long Island on a sketching excursion. Founded the previous year, the Club met to paint decorative tiles (then a popular art form) and exchange gossip about the art world. Club members included Winslow Homer, Edwin Austin Abbey, John Twachtman, William Merritt Chase, and J. Alden Weir. The Club's first summer outing to the East End assured the future of the area as an artistic and cultural center in the United States.
During and after World War II, a second migration of artists arrived in the East End who altered the focus of American art. In 1945, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner bought a small farm housing the Springs of East Hampton, followed be Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, among others. This developing school of painting-Abstract Expressionism-reinterpreted the East End landscape in a completely innovative way.
Born on April 19 th 1950 Curt Hoppe spent summers of his childhood at his grandparents' home in northern Minnesota overlooking the shore of Lake Superior. The artist claims that he is a “Heinz 57 Variety American.
Growing up in Minneapolis, the artist graduated from the University of Minnesota High School; later he attended and left the university. As a teenager, when his contemporaries were making pocket money cutting lawns and raking leaves, Hoppe painted signs; among them was one for a local Coffee House “The 10 O clock Scholar", where Bob Dylan often played. The artist's early interest and involvement with sign painting and outdoor graphics is very much evident in some of his recent townscapes. (see painting  “Gossmans Fish Market”)
Hoppe, who admittedly is a self-taught artist, began painting seriously almost thirty years ago. He unassumingly points out that “art is the only thing I've ever really felt I've been cut out for-it's never been a choice for me.”
The energy and mystique of the New York art scene motivated the young artist's relocation to Manhattan in 1975: he maintains that “Minneapolis is a great place to leave and take things along with you..” The “things” Hoppe brought with him were considerable: vigor, optimism, youthful joie de virvre , and the determination to paint . After finding a fifth floor walk-up on the Bowery (he still lives there with his wife Ruth), Hoppe subsidized his painting career be doing magazine illustration, taking paparazzi photographs, or sometimes “cleaning a bar on Broome Street.”
During this time, he frequented galleries, studied art books and magazines and kept up with what other painter were working on.
Hoppe began painting naturalistic female nudes,  and then started working in a patient, meticulous way that he felt had more truthful results. These realistic paintings were a serious alternative to the various postwar avant-garde movements: the Abstract Expressionism Pop,Op and color-field abstraction that were prevalent at that time.
The artist didn't venture far from his Bowery studio to paint objects and scenes of the everyday life of his neighborhood when he began a series of paintings of Little Italy. Hoppe was intrigued with the indigenous, familiar “old stuff” he found there: storefronts, fire engines and signs were among his favorite subjects.
Although the East End landscape is a completely different from the cityscape of the Lower East side, the artist became equally intrigued with the region's mundane iconography of rural and suburban middle America, Soda fountains, a movie house, a golf range and Fourth of July fireworks are part of the “real” East End that Hoppe documented for nearly ten summers. All are pictures of familiar places-a captivating combination of straightforwardness and restraint. “I paint where I am” is how Hoppe puts it.

……John Esten on April 2000, NewYorkCity


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