Edward Hopper, Night on the El Train, 1918
ALVA's annual statistics were released today, confirming the British Museum as the UK's top visitor attraction, with nearly 6 million visitors in the past year. Perhaps the most surprising contribution to those numbers comes from the 355,000 who visited their temporary show, The American Scene: Prints From Hopper To Pollock. In fact, the Museum has even dubbed it "one of the most popular fine art exhibitions ever held in London."
It is a stunning primer of early 20th Century American art, from the grim realism of the Ashcan school, via Edward Hopper's romanticised nocturnal scenes, right up to the expressive early works of Jackson Pollock. Countless social, political and artistic influences penetrate the collection, from the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism, to film noir, jazz and underground boxing matches, making it unequivocally a product of the era.
A new discovery among the number was Martin Lewis, whose Little Penthouse and Spring Night, Greenwich Village (below) offer cute visions of life on the streets of 1930s New York, lit by the incidental light from nearby buildings. Thankfully, the exhibition isn't done yet either. The American Scene is currently on tour, taking in Nottingham, Brighton and Manchester over the coming year.
Martin Lewis, Spring Night, Greenwich Village, 1931