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Season of discoveries

Posted by Sebastian Smee  July 26, 2011 01:05 PM

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hopper_pic7.jpgIt has been a summer, for me, of revelations, many of them delivered by the state of Maine.
Before seeing "Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World, and the Olson House," at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, I had tended not to rate this perennially popular artist.

Now? Well ("Duh," you might justifiably say), he's a lot better than I thought.

Similarly, before seeing the Clark's "Pissarro's People," I had never heard of this terrific artist's "Les Turpitudes Sociales," a series of extraordinary prints that constitute a withering indictment of French society at the end of the 19th century.

Who knew the fond and deeply sympathetic old man had it in him?

And finally, who knew Edward Hopper had painted more than two dozen scorchingly brilliant open air studies in oil of the rocks and sea at Monhegan, in Maine?

These pictures, which open "Edward Hopper's Maine," a marvelous show at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, are simply superb. They're painted with fresh, juicy - but never loose or flabby - brustrokes, and they're scintillating studies of light and color. Devoid of underdrawing, they're small, freshly felt pictures that are full of the joys of pushing around paint.

Hopper, as we all know, moved on to a very different way of painting within just a few years. But these 30-odd works, which are little known and seldom displayed, deserve to be seen by anyone interested in paint, in Hopper, or in Maine.

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About the author

The Boston Globe Journalist Series: Sebastian Smee
Sebastian Smee is the Globe's art critic, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He joined the paper's staff from Sydney, where he served as the national art critic for The Australian. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SebastianSmee. Read Smee's full bio.

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