Budd Hopkins (1932 - 2011)
Although better known in recent years for his parallel career as a UFO advocate and author, Budd Hopkins, who passed away this week at the age of 80, deserves to be remembered for his painting career that spanned more than 50 years.
Hopkins came of age as an artist in the 1950's becoming friendly with Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline and other artists of the New York School. He began to exhibit energetic, athletic abstraction at Poindexter Gallery in 1956 and continued to paint and exhibit for the rest of his life.
As his painterly, gestural approach eventually gave way to more hard-edged style, Hopkins maintained that the emotional drive that intially attracted him to Abstract Expressionism remained at the core of his work.
Asked in a 2010 interview how he felt about "idea-centric art," Hopkins replied, "What's that going to do for me emotionally? That's why I think in a certain sense the 20th Century ended up being won by Duchamp rather than Picasso. It's all very clever, but for how long? Emotional expression is far more important." 1
In a separate statement, Hopkins noted, "My paintings and sculptures, at first glance, may appear to be purely aesthetic; closer up, they are not. They hold a feeling of tentativeness, combined with a sense of arrival." 2