The opening of Curt Hoppe’s two-gallery exhibition of Downtown Portraits last week was a mobbed success. At Howl Happening, which is featuring all 105 photographic portraits, many of Hoppe’s subjects participated in a large group portrait: A Great Day in Harlem – East Village style! At the Bernarducci Gallery, 22 giant portrait paintings rose above the heads of the opening day crowd, and were irresistible for selfie-takers.
Some excerpts from the exhibition catalogue:
“Hoppe’s decision to create a personal pantheon is partly a response to contemporary culture, where many people regularly record and celebrate their own unique experiences and friendships in digital form on social media. However, Hoppe also keeps one foot firmly rooted in the past. The 24 oversized paintings bestow on Hoppe’s undertaking the added clout associated with a respected, old-fashioned medium that allows for scale and permanence.” – Marc H Miller
“…you can feel the moment. Not nostalgia for lost youth, with all the desire and ambition that defines artists at the beginning of their careers. Rather we have here a celebration of history as a lived possession that when mastered by artistic maturity makes vanity a thing of the past. ‘We are cooler now,’ Hoppe insists. ‘It’s a question of confidence. No one has anything to prove.'” – Walter Robinson
“Fortunately for his own work though likely a bit worse for his wallet, Curt Hoppe seems to have eschewed the common practice of wooing the wealthy and painting pretty pictures for their posterity. In fact it is likely that most of his subjects could not even afford the paint and canvas, let alone the consummate skills that Hoppe invests in his pictures of them.” – Carlo McCormick
Copies of the catalogue, containing all 105 photo portraits and 24 paintings, can be purchased at Howl Happening: An Arturo Vega Project.