A photo reproduction of a Hopper painting of a green car getting petrol at a gas station at night

Edward Hopper: Telling Stories

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 22 April 2020 > Shine Bright Lycée What's On

Evocative American painter Edward Hopper was to be the subject of an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland this spring. But since visitors can't go to the museum, the museum can come to them online. Hopper's paintings are wonderful jumping off points for creative writing, or, as film director Wim Wenders explains, for imagining unmade films.

A few years ago, when we still had paper Speakeasy magazines, there was a Hopper exhibition in Paris and we asked pupils to send in creative writing pieces inspired by the paintings. We received some truly fabulous stories that showed how much students could read into the enigmatic situations Hopper loved to depict, even collège pupils from A2.

Wim Wenders is also inspired by Hopper, as he explains in this short video that was commissioned for the Beyeler exhibition. He says, "In front of Edward Hopper's paintings, I always get this feeling that they're frames from movies that were never made. And I start wondering, 'What's the story that is beginning here? What will happen to these characters in the next moment?" In the video, he has recreated scenes from famous Hopper paintings. A case of fiction becoming reality, or becoming another fiction?

Why not use the calm and quiet of lockdown to set pupils an assignment to imagine the story of a Hopper painting? What happened just before or is about to happen? What are the characters thinking? Why not take Wenders' cue and ask them to write a scene from a film, or storyboard it?

Pupils can see five paintings alone here, or with the texts that accompany them in the exhibition.

There are more paintings on view on the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum sites. And more on the man himself on the site of the Edward Hopper House Museum in New York State.

Since Hopper had a predilection for painting roads, cars and gas stations, this activity would fit well with our Shine Bright LLCE File 7 "On the Road", where pupils are tasked to make a short film about “Americans on the Road” for an on-screen exhibition. They could also choose a Hopper painting for the Bac Portfolio.

Feel free to send us your pupils' work. We'd love to publish some of it!