Edward Hopper and Dike Blair, Gloucester
organized by Robert Hobbs
November 10–December 21, 2022

22 East 2nd Street
New York

“Instead of assigning Gloucester a leading role, I have chosen to regard it and its picturesque environs as a backdrop for a different scenario: a story centered on Edward Hopper’s earliest watercolors created in the 1920s and Dike Blair’s gouaches painted a century later … When considered together, their works on paper demonstrate how unlike the art of the early twentieth century is from its early twenty-first-century counterpart.”

—Robert Hobbs


Karma is pleased to present Edward Hopper and Dike Blair, Gloucester. Located at 22 East 2nd Street, New York, the show will run from November 10 to December 21, 2022.

Separated by a century, Edward Hopper and Dike Blair have both made paintings of Gloucester, Massachusetts. When these works are brought together, the small fishing town, rendered in details both atmospheric and vibrant, becomes a site of demarcation for different ways of seeing.

A century ago, Hopper turned from Gloucester’s ragged coast toward its Victorian homes, which in the 1920s were considered out of style. Beginning in the summer of 1923, he depicted the varieties of roofs, windows, and ornate moldings that distinguished these houses and mansions. Working in watercolor and guided by an Emersonian sense of intuition and individuality, Hopper created in Gloucester his first mature works. In fact, his Mansard Roof was the first painting he sold in more than a decade, and his Gloucester series signals a major shift from commercial illustrating to full-time painting.

In August 2021, Dike Blair arrived in Gloucester on the heels of a rainstorm and witnessed firsthand the legendary ocean-enhanced daylight that had made the town a favorite destination for painters in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The visit was prompted by art historian Robert Hobbs’s suggestion that Blair look closely at Hopper’s work as a possible subject for an exhibition, since Blair had invoked Hopper as a kindred spirit.

After touring houses Hopper had painted, Blair discovered the Gloucester he wished to depict when he observed the town’s dock and houses illuminated by artificial light sources at night. Blair’s Gloucester emerged: truckports, reflective puddles, the sea shrouded in mist, and a Victorian mansion flanked by a pickup truck. In these images, Hopper’s work can be sensed as an unmistakable cultural trace, resonant among a chorus of cultural sources. Despite their ostensible resemblances to Hopper’s watercolors, Blair’s gouaches can be understood in terms of his immersion in a number of different genres, ranging from science fiction to haiku and the saturated colors of the Marvel comics he once collected.

Edward Hopper and Dike Blair, Gloucester documents these two transformative views, tethered in place and yet separated by time. Starting with the symmetry of paintings focusing on Gloucester, this exhibition reveals meaningful differences in the artists’ outlooks, documenting a remarkable narrative shift from the art of the early twentieth century to that of the present.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book by Robert Hobbs that provides fresh ways of approaching these two artists and their work.