Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art

Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art is an exhibition in the Kunsthalle Vienna, featuring Edward Hopper (surprise!), David Claerbout [page is in French], Dawn Clements, Jonas Dahlberg, Thomas Demand, Gustav Deutsch [There’s an English button which I can’t get to work. If you can, great, if not, it’s in German], Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Tim Eitel, Jim Jarmusch, Rachel Khedoori, Mark Lewis, Ed Ruscha, Markus Schinwald/Oleg Soulimenko, Jeff Wall, Rachel Whiteread.

[Oh yeah, baby, that’s Jim Jarmusch right there. ;)]

The exhibition concentrates on Hopper’s influence on cinema and his view of architectural space, but it also features photographs working with the same principles as he did in his paintings – people, who are kind of frozen in their loneliness, light that makes the paintings come alive.

It’s very interesting to see the parallels that are drawn between the different artists, who work with very different media – from painting to sculptures, film to print.

It’s a surprisingly short exhibition – even though there are so many different artists, you can comfortably see everything in an hour and a half – which is exactly the amount of time my brain gives me before it goes in information overload mode.

Although I didn’t like all the artists (and let’s be honest, there’s little chance of that because there are just so many of them), I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

[After the break see pictures of the artists’ works.]

Edward Hopper

nighthawksNighthawks – probably Hopper’s most famous painting

western_motelWestern Motel, which gave the exhibition its title. There was a set built of this painting, where you could sit in the woman’s place and take a photo. Pretty cool. [See below: Gustav Deutsch]

David Claerbout

claerbout_2This was a film installation, where the background [the outside] of a photo was manipulated to show people walking past, sometimes trying to open the locked doors. Everything but their shadows had to stay outside.

claerbout_carAnother film installation, which only showed the inside of this car the whole time. It’s raining, nobody is talking. In the second half of it, though, we can see the car from the outside, in a wide landscape with the sun shining. It could have been a photograph except for a swaying tree in the foreground of the picture, which gave it all a bit of an eerie feel.

Dawn Clements

clementstravelHere’s a detail of Clements’ “Travels With MyraHudson”. In fact, the whole thing was huge. Much like this one:

clementsHer work is incredibly detailed and seems a bit like a run-on sentence. You just get carried from one detail to the next, never seeming able to finish.

Jonas Dahlberg

jonas_dahlbergAnother video installation, called three rooms (you can watch it on his site). It showed three rooms – a bedroom, a dining room, a living room – with the furniture and everything in it slowly falling apart and decaying. The picture here is of the bedroom, before the destruction.

Thomas Demand

demandThomas Demand takes photos, which are – at first glance – rather unremarkable, even if very well executed. Then somebody tells you that he builds all his scenes with paper and cardboard only, which you wouldn’t notice without somebody telling you. And then you’re awed. :)


Gustav Deutsch

2931210978_1980944df9As I mentioned before, that’s the set of the Western Motel painting. Deutsch also did miniatures of other Hopper painting backgrounds (without the people) which you could look at through a small hole. Kind of like a peep show.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia

28996-largeDiCorcia has a photograph series called “Hustlers”, where he photographs young  uhm… hustlers. The title of the photo is the name, age, location and the price of the mostly young boys. This one is: ‘Brent Booth, 21 years old, Des Moines, Iowa $30’

dicorcia-hustlersThis one is my favourite (of those I know): “Eddie Anderson; 21 Years Old; Houston, Texas; $20”

Tim Eitel

thumbdi_11_tim_eitelThis one’s called quite simply Matratze (matress). It’s a photorealistic painting and really looks amazing.

thumbdi_tim_eitelThis one’s called Ohne Titel (Ausblick) [Without Title (View)]. I really like its contemplativeness.

Jim Jarmusch

There were several scenes from different Jarmusch movies like Broken Flowers, Stranger Than Paradise, Coffee and Cigarettes, Night on Earth etc. Jarmusch himself said how influential Hopper was on his style.

And if you take this excerpt from Coffee and Cigarettes it’s pretty plain to see.

Rachel Khedoori

200620khera0016_200To be honest, I had troubles accessing Khedoori’s work. I did like a sculpture though, that was not unlike this one.

Mark Lewis

thumbdi_12_mark_lewisMark Lewis had two video installations in this exhibition. In this one, the camera slowly zooms towards the building, which doesn’t have any windows. There are a few people on the second floor and we slowly discover what they’re doing – making a top spin. [Watch the thing here – it’s beautiful.]

isosceles1That’s the second installation: the camera slowly drives around this triangular building. [You can watch it here, but personally I didn’t like it as much as North Circular above.]

Ed Ruscha

ed_ruscha-twenty-six20gasoline20station_19621 Ed Ruscha made a book from photographing 26 gas station along one highway in the US (was it route 66? I don’t remember). He then used the photos further to make prints like this one:

artwork_images_1011_325327_ed-ruschaAptly called Double Standard. It’s all very pop-art-y.

Markus Schinwald/Oleg Soulimenko

thumbdi_14_markus_schinwald_oleg_soulimenkoMarkus Schinwald shot a video of dancer/performer/entertainer Oleg Soulimenko doing his thing – he kind of moves a bit aimlessly (and pointlessly) about this set. Didn’t watch that for long because I got bored, to be honest.

Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall takes photos, which I didn’t really think were exciting. Artistically I can’t say much about it, but it didn’t really speak to me.

Rachel Whiteread

thumbdi_16_rachel_whitereadAnother one of the artists I couldn’t really relate to. But interesting stuff.

Rachel Whiteread also did the Holocaust Memorial on the Judenplatz in Vienna (the Nameless Library).

That’s it. *wipes brow*


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