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On the Sea and Off the Road

Art

Two visually stunning, escapist coffee table books exhibit the worlds of two artistic geniuses.

For your oh-so-correct beach house this summer, pick up “Houses of the Sundown Sea: The Architectural Vision of Harry Gesner” (Abrams), by Lisa Germany, and “Silent Theater: The Art of Edward Hopper” (Phaidon), by Walter Wells.

Here’s a bit of description as to why, starting with the Gesner tome:

“For more than 60 years, passersby have strained to catch a glimpse of maverick architect Harry Gesner’s houses in Southern California. This is the first book to examine Gesner’s architecture, tracing his career from 1945 to the present and opening the doors to 15 of Gesner’s intriguing homes, all located in or near Los Angeles and built in the 1950s and 1960s. An insightful and revealing text accompanies new photography by Juergen Nogai along with historical photographs and Gesner’s own drawings, floor plans, and blueprints drawn from his remarkably rich archive. Gesner’s utterly unique, often eccentric and unorthodox designs are outside the canons of doctrinaire modernism, yet he is undoubtedly a Modernist, and one whose romantic, quixotic nature has caused his truly extraordinary body of work to be overlooked by many—until now.”

And Hopper, who needs little intro:

“Edward Hopper’s (1882-1967) paintings are often described as belonging to a school of American realism, and were in part inspired by the works of European realists such as Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet; however the underlying themes of loneliness, melancholy and silence that pervade his works also recall the surrealist, dream-like images of Giorgio de Chirico. These elements of the dream world and the subconscious – psychological states that are intrinsic to all people, however little we understand them – may be what make Hopper’s works so universally compelling. The paintings embody a particularly American sensibility; Hopper’s evocative depictions of both urban and rural settings, including theatre interiors, railways, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, street scenes and coastal landscapes, have become iconic images of early twentieth-century American culture.”

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