Edward Hopper, Cape Cod, and the Kennedys
‘Are you going to meet the Kennedys?’, someone jokes when I say that I’m on my way to Cape Cod. Who knows, I answer with a smile. For centuries the Kennedy family live there in summer, so … The colour pictures of a tanned, cigar smoking J.F. K., who is relaxing with Jackie and his kids on the family yaught Honey Fitz, in the summer of ’63, months before he was shot, are world famous. In fact I go there to try to find out what is left of the cultural magic that numerous artists and writers who stayed on this peninsula on the American east coast, propagated. I want to find out what it was that made Edward Hopper build a primitive house for himself and his wife, to paint the magnificent landscape, the light and the endless ocean, day after day, year after year. Driven by this deep desire: the enjoyment of a perfect life between the dunes, the pine forests, and the nostalgic wooden houses, where inspiration flowed like wine after the harvest and eternal health could be more than a dream. What was it, what made Henry David Thoreau write: ‘What are springs and waterfalls? Here is the spring of springs, the waterfall of waterfalls. A storm in the fall or winter is the time to visit it; a light-house or a fisherman's hut the true hotel. A man may stand there and put all America behind him.’ But for now I hold my quest for myself, because I know that the mysterious fate of the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, who departed from Cape Cod for a solo sailing trip across the ocean to Europe but never arrived, nobody here interests. Ship accidents are part of the history of the Cape as the pouring, freezing rain in the long winters or the the storms that swallow the sand. And oh, weirdos with the distant horizon in their glassy eyes belong to the Cape as the coast birds to the grand beach, don’t tell the folks here.