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  • Hopper Masterpiece at Christie's N. Y. Post-War Auction
    March 25, 2005 NEW YORK.

    Edward Hopper, Chair Car, (detail) 1965.

    Chair Car, a rare masterpiece by one of America’s most prominent Modernist painters, Edward Hopper, will lead Christie’s Evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art on May 11 at Rockefeller Center. Edward Hopper is considered a cornerstone of some of the world’s most renowned collections of Post-War and Contemporary art and Chair Car, 1965, is one of the last Hopper paintings in private hands.

    The painting is part of the Collection of Helen and David B. Pall, a couple whose great enthusiasm for American and European Modern works of art quickly blossomed into a passion for collecting. Forty-nine important works from the collection will be sold throughout the spring auction season in different sales including Post-War and Contemporary Art, American Paintings, Prints and Multiples, Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper, European Furniture and Sculpture and 20th Century British Art.

    Having been trained in the realist tradition of the Ash Can School, Edward Hopper always maintained a strong realist impulse and constantly sought a more fundamental emotional connection in his art. In Chair Car, Hopper presents a poignant scene on a train car that elicits emotions of solitude and apprehension but at the same time hopeful anticipation of reaching a destination that are conveyed by the position and abstractness of the figures and the manipulation of color and light. A virtual ‘snapshot’ of a moment in a rail car, Chair Car depicts a simple yet forceful composition of four solitary figures, three women and one man, seated far apart from one another and who are seemingly engrossed in thought. The use of only a few colors – mainly green, yellow, blue and white – the patterns of light and shade and the lack of objects in the overall composition, emphasize an emotional and dreamlike atmosphere that is evocative of many of Hopper’s most famous images.

    Often, the viewpoint in Hopper’s work is that of a traveler, someone who is drawn to the subjects but not attached to them. In fact, many of his works depict railroads, highways, signs, gas stations and hotels. He tried to extract from the viewer feelings of interest, curiosity and fear. This is achieved in Chair Car with a viewpoint at the rear of the car, which moves the viewer into the lonely and emotional scene, evoking a feeling of uneasiness.

    With its strong emphasis on perspective and proportion, Chair Car is one of Hopper’s most magnificent examples of tension and emotion, portraying the travelers’ feeling of anticipation.

    Helen and David B. Pall - David B. Pall was a true Renaissance man who was devoted to both the arts and sciences. He was a research chemist on the Manhattan Project and later an inventor who created dozens of sophisticated filters, most notably for purifying blood for transfusions. He established Pall Corporation, based in East Hills, New York in 1946, now a $1.1 billion global business. Dr. Pall received 181 patents for his designs which included filters for helicopter engines and for liquids used aboard airplanes and spacecraft.

    After his wife’s death from a blood disorder, he re-married in 1960. Together Helen and David Pall decided to collect art as a way to spend quality time together. It was a labor of love and art as an investment never entered the equation. While Mrs. Pall was the driving force behind the collection, purchasing decisions were always made jointly. Helen Pall served on the Print Acquisitions committee at The Whitney Museum in New York and co-owned a print gallery with Helen Getler in the same city in the 1970s and 1980s.