When Picasso was outsripped on home turf

Updated 08 February 2013

When Picasso was outsripped on home turf

A major Edward Hopper retrospective has pulled in more than three-quarters of a million visitors, outstripping even a blockbuster collection of the works of long-time Paris resident Picasso.
In figures that underline the extraordinary popularity of the American realist artist, organizers revealed Monday that a total of 784,269 visitors had come through the doors of the French capital’s Grand Palais in less than four months.
The total narrowly exceeded the numbers drawn to the “Picasso and the Masters” exhibition which was held over an almost identical period in the same venue in 2008-09.
Both exhibitions concluded with round-the-clock opening on their final weekend, with the Hopper collection, which closed Sunday, drawing just under 48,000 people in a last-minute rush that included Jill Biden, wife of visiting US Vice President Joe.
“The total was far, far bigger than we expected. Even in the US, Hopper has never drawn so many people,” the exhibition’s delighted curator, Didier Ottinger, told AFP.
Ottinger said Hopper’s great success in France reflected “the French passion for an America that is not about consumerism, a more thoughtful, subtler and more humane America.”
The most successful Paris exhibition of recent years was a 2010-11 retrospective of the works of Claude Monet, which was seen by 913,064 people.
That Hopper even got close to the French impressionist master was astonishing, according to Fabrice Bousteau, editorial director of Beaux-Arts Magazine.
“Before the exhibition we did a poll of our readers and discovered half of them had not even heard of Hopper,” Bousteau told AFP. “But despite that, some of his images are part of the collective unconscious and that partly explains the phenomenal success.”
Unlike his contemporary Picasso, Hopper had to wait until beyond his 40th birthday to sell his first paintings.
Success and fame had arrived by the time of his death, aged 84, in 1967, but he and Josephine, his wife and muse, still lived in their modest, walk-up flat in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Since his death, Hopper’s reputation has steadily grown and the last decade has seen his appeal broaden to a mass audience, particularly in Europe, where his original works, mostly residing in US collections, were previously rarely seen.
Prior to showing in Paris, most of the works shown here were displayed in Madrid, where 325,000 people turned up.
A 2004 exhibition at London’s Tate Modern drew nearly 430,000 people and remains one of the most successful in that museum’s history.
A collection displayed in Milan and Rome in 2010 also surpassed organizers’ expectations as thousands flocked to get a glimpse of the mastery of light and atmosphere that have made Hopper’s reputation.
Those qualities are depicted most famously in “Nighthawks,” a late-night scene of solitary bar drinkers which has been responsible for establishing “loneliness” as one of the dominant themes of his work — in the popular imagination at least.
Hopper, who was repeatedly afflicted by bouts of depression, once said he thought the association of his paintings with loneliness was overdone.
But he acknowledged that he aspired, through his work, to offer a glimpse into the inner life of his subjects. That may explain why he has become so popular in a period of renewed economic insecurity in the Western world.

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint,” he once said in a remark that might sum up another of his most famous works, “Morning Sun,” which depicts a contemplative woman sitting, in a nightdress, on a bed by a window.
Hopper’s many landscapes of the US East Coast, have become equally celebrated and the eroticism, explicit in “Girlie Show” and implicit in “Nighthawks” or “Cape Cod Morning,” of many of his works may also help to explain why he touches so many people.

My Ramadan with Safi Enayat: Experiencing the Holy Month in Copenhagen

Updated 21 May 2018

My Ramadan with Safi Enayat: Experiencing the Holy Month in Copenhagen

  • Safi Enayat came to Copenhagen as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001
  • This Ramadan, he’s hosting a pop-up iftar with chefs from Baker & Spice Dubai

COPENHAGEN: Safi Enayat came to Copenhagen as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001 and found a job washing dishes in a restaurant kitchen before working his way up to become head chef and a restaurant owner in his own right. His cooking is a reflection of the diverse cultural influences that have characterized his life, from the traditional Afghan dishes with a modern twist he cooks for friends to the Indian-inspired cuisine served in his restaurant chain dhaba.dk, as well as the international fare he has encountered in Europe. This Ramadan, he’s hosting a pop-up iftar with chefs from Baker & Spice Dubai which aims to attract a mixed crowd of Muslims and non-Muslims to break bread over delicious Arabic food.

Read on to experience Ramadan in the European city in his own words...

Everyday life goes on as normal during Ramadan in Copenhagen because the Muslim community here is not that big. In general, people congregate at the city’s larger mosques to pray and break the fast together. There are a few larger events that I look forward to, such as Iftar på Rådhuspladsen, when everyone gathers in City Hall Square and brings a dish to share with their family and friends. It’s an amazing feeling, sitting on the floor in front of this beautiful venue with people from all cultures — Danish, Afghan, Arabs… usually several hundred people attend. Here, you have the right to enjoy your religion as you want and while Danes might be curious to know why we fast, they are very accepting. Last year one of my Danish friends called during Ramadan to say he was fasting for the day to understand it better. I was touched. I think it showed a lot of respect for my religion, which is something I often find here.

Since coming here, I feel like Ramadan has become more visible, people are more aware of what is going on and more interested in why Muslims are fasting and why they do it for so long. It’s a friendly interest. With the long days at this time of the year, many Muslims in Denmark choose to take some of their summer holidays during Ramadan so they have less work and can enjoy the Holy Month.

We’ll be hosting a pop-up iftar called The Opposite Kitchen with Baker & Spice from June 2 to June 8, which is something new to the city. We’ll invite everyone from all cultures and religions to come and learn about the meaning of Ramadan. For me, the beautiful message behind Ramadan is that when you fast, you can see what it’s like for someone who is starving on the other side of the world and can’t put food on the table, and I think it’s important to understand that. I also think that food is an important way of bringing people together. It’s something we all share and enjoy. I found my way into the Danish community through food, it was an easy way to become a citizen of the city and a part of life here. I’ve been here for so many years that this is home for me now.