“Western Motel,” 1957, Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967), oil on canvas. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, B.A., 1903. © 2019 Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
The marriage of art and technology has allowed for innovative exhibitions in museums across the world. At the Louvre, visitors can see the Mona Lisa stand up and move around thanks to their first virtual reality experience. Now, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) is recreating Edward Hopper‘s atmospheric painting, Western Motel, as an interactive three-dimensional space.
Called the Hopper Hotel Experience, this perfectly designed room not only resembles Hopper’s masterpiece in color, light, and composition, but it is also a fully functional motel room. The installation is actually the centerpiece to a much larger exhibition exploring the American artist’s interest in hospitality settings, entitled Edward Hopper and the American Hotel. Complementing the motel experience is also a collection of more than 60 paintings, drawings, watercolors, and illustrations from Hopper’s body of work, as well as 35 works by other American artists that also explore transitory spaces. Additionally, the exhibition features never-before-seen diary excerpts and hotel postcards belonging to Hopper’s wife and fellow artist, Josephine “Jo” Hopper. These precious personal items elaborate on the couple’s travels and how those experiences impacted their respective artistic practices.
“Each of our curators is tasked with creating exhibitions that provide new narratives about the collection and engage visitors with works of art in a unique way,” says VMFA Director Alex Nyerges. “We are thrilled that through this historic exhibition, VMFA’s visitors will be able to interact with and learn from extraordinary paintings, drawings, and illustrations by Hopper, as well as works by renowned artists such as Richard Caton Woodville, John Singer Sargent, Charles Demuth, Reginald Marsh, Edward Ruscha, and Cindy Sherman.”
Visitors to VMFA will be able to physically “step inside” the Western Motel. But there’s more—this special exhibit is also hosting 50 overnight stays in the Hopper Hotel Experience throughout the exhibition. The lucky recipients will feel as though they are sleeping in the oil-rendered world of the Western Motel. It should come as no surprise that there are zero vacancies left to snag at this one-of-a-kind room. “Edward Hopper is one of the best-known 20th-century American artists, yet the public’s conception of him has largely been filtered through a time-worn biographical formula that explains his art as the product of a sullen, isolated introvert,” states exhibition curator, Dr. Leo G. Mazow. “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel endeavors to consider hotels, motels, and other transient dwellings as vital subject matter for Hopper, and as a framework with which to understand his entire body of work.”
The Edward Hopper and the American Hotel exhibition will be on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art until February 23, 2020. Afterward, the show will move to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, set to open in June 2020.