Executed in 1941.
As one of America's most renowned twentieth century artists, Edward Hopper produced important watercolors throughout his career. Though never lacking suitable subject matter in New York City, home for most of his adult life, Hopper's true love was to travel and paint scenery he found across America. With his wife Jo, Hopper traveled extensively, exploring Massachusetts and Maine, South Carolina, Wyoming, California and Oregon, among other places. On his travels, Hopper was drawn to both dramatic scenes and to utterly ordinary ones-views of railroad tracks, for example, or a bit of Oregon coast, as evident in the present work.
Hopper achieved his first success in the medium of watercolor when he painted a group of notable works in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1923. Gail Levin writes: "Hopper used watercolor with confidence, improvising as he went along. He would apply the pigments with only a faint pencil sketch outlining the structures. What interested him was not the creation of textures or the manipulation of the medium, but the transcription of light. Light was the language through which Hopper expressed the forms and views before him. His watercolors were simply recordings of his observations, painted almost entirely out-of-doors, directly before his subject matter." (Edward Hopper: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, pp. 65-66)
As with most of his work, Oregon Coast is much more than a casual observation of the features of a particular landscape. As a student of Robert Henri at the Art Students League in New York, Hopper became fascinated with the effects of palette, light and shadow on the overall mood of the work. In the present watercolor, Hopper focuses on a sea cliff observed from a cove along the Oregon beaches. The rock face dominates the scene, concealing a sizeable amount of the sky and water. Devoid of figures, the composition emphasizes the resplendent light that transforms the seacoast into a powerful relief. In signature watercolors like Oregon Coast, Hopper's use of harsh, shadow-casting light manages to imply the feelings of loneliness and solitude that pervade so much of his finest work.