106 Newark, NJ: Museum

[Newark Museum]

"The art of Europe is finished—dead—and America is the country of the future. Look at the skyscrapers." -Marcel Duchamp, 1915. Written on the wall in the Newark Museum.

Built in 1926, the Newark Museum was donated to the city by store owner and Newark champion Louis Bamberger. A huge entrance court with a café did not prepare me for the museum's narrow hallways that shoehorned into small rooms stuffed to the gills.

In one of these narrow hallways hung Hopper's The Sheridan Theater.
The painting is tiny by Hopper's standards: about one-and-a-half feet by two. It shows the back of a woman looking over a theater balcony railing. She wears a tight red ankle-length skirt, white shirt, black hat, and black high-heeled shoes. Jo called the blond "a Mae West effect." She is looking into a pit of seats, as indicated by a brass railing to her right and an usher far left talking to someone atop a stairway. Her red-and-white combo is mirrored by the red and white in the rooms above her where the theater opens up. The odd red chandeliers on her level seem like scabs on the ceiling. Is she looking for someone? Has the play started? Ended? Is it intermission?

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