Short of hanging the painting on your living room wall, Phil Grabsky’s popular Exhibition on Screen series may be the best way to spend quality time with a favourite artist. At least, that’s what it feels like as we’re immersed in the infinitely evocative oils of Edward Hopper, a poet with a paintbrush.
Although Hopper’s work seems straightforward—he’s an American realist after all—it’s also rich in paradox. If he seems to distill a certain sense of the American Century, particularly the urban environment, he also ignores great swathes of it; his cities are lonely places, scarcely populated. He’s a suggestive storyteller (we might think of Raymond Carver or Hemingway) but also a cryptic one, inviting us to fill in the blanks (no wonder he’s always been such a popular artist with filmmakers). As for his own life, he was impatient with attempts to psychoanalyze his work, but as Grabsky discovers, this consummate craftsman owed a great deal to the artist Josephine Nivison, who would become his wife and who sacrificed her own career to manage his.
The film draws on leading experts and curators, Hopper’s diaries and letters, but of course, the best reason to watch it is to bathe in close-ups of superb art.
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Phil Grabsky, Amanda Wilkie
Michael Cascio, Cynthia Weber Cascio, Phil Grabsky, Amanda Wilkie
Shane Alcock, Robert Burnett, Joshua Csehak, Phil Grabsky
Phil Grabsky is a filmmaker who has won multiple awards for his directing, writing, producing, and cinematography. He and his company Seventh Art Productions are behind films such as Muhammad Ali – Through the Eyes of the World (2001), In Search of Beethoven (2009), and The Boy Mir – Ten Years in Afghanistan (2011).
Grabsky has written four history books including the best-seller The Great Commanders. He has been a judge for the Emmy, BAFTA, Grierson, and One World awards, and has won Best Director and Services to Television awards at the Royal Television Society.
Filmography: In Search of Beethoven (2009); The Boy Mir – Ten Years in Afghanistan (2011); Exhibition on Screen: Raphael Revealed (2020); My Childhood, My Country: 20 Years in Afghanistan (2021)