ArtnHopper at WhitneynThe fact that Hopper’s exhibition immediatelynfollows Picasso’s retrospectivenmay be a source of musing. Without detractingnfrom the Spaniard’s position asna giant in his field we may ask (meekly,nto be sure): Which of them better expressesnour time, gives testimony to itsnpoignancy? As we were leaving thenWhitney Museum, we were not certainnwe would have an unambiguous answer.nWe know that to many cognoscenti suchna comparison sounds blasphemous andninsolent, but—having fresh in our eyesn”Early Sunday Morning,” “Nighthawks,”nall those New York townnhouses and all that solitary grief at paltrynluncheonette tables—we somehow feltnthat there is more of a profound contemporarynmisery in these works than innthe visual uproar of “Guernica.”nHowever, it is a peculiar sadness, ornpoignancy, and although many see in it ancondemnation of the American promise,nwe tend to see it as an expressionnof a shy and delicate love, a quaint patriotismnof things heavy-hearted, a bittersweetndevotion to the uniquely Americannmoment of crepuscule, of feelingnblue in the midst of an urban universenwhose inexpressible melancholy doesnnot cancel its preciousness, its sentimentalnintimacy. When looking at thenwork Edward Hopper did in France—thenunremarkably postimpressionistic canvases—onencan’t help but think thatnonly after he had found America againncould something of poetry begin to movenhis hand. If we were to try to pinpointnthe foremost art presentation of ournepoch. Hopper’s “Automat” (1927)nmight be our choice. If we had to choosenan emblem of pictorial Americanism innmodern painting. Hopper’s “Self-Portrait”n(1925-1930) would be, in ournopinion, a strong contender. The romanticnrealism of American moviesnseems to have originated in Hopper’snwork. Very few artists have ever known.nChronicles of Culturenas Hopper did, how to use the poetry ofnthe trite to express compassion and delicatenessnof emotions without resortingnto the purely intellectual gimmicks ofnformalism. Hotel lobbies, boardingnrooms, gas stations, commuter trains—nall bathed in Hopper’s green, neonlikenlights—convey something which onlyntime will elevate from excellence tongreatness. We wouldn’t be surprised if,nin the future, “Nighthawks” is countednas the visual quintessence of 20th-centuryncivilization—it shows that civilization’snhermetic autonomousness of mannis both his tragedy and his comfort.nCorrespondencenHopper’s exhibition is a rousing successnwith the public: long lines formnevery morning on Madison Avenue andnstretch around the block. “Figurativenand representational art is alreadynkosher in Gotham,” said a bright youngnlady from New York who accompaniednus. “People are no longer afraid to likena painting of a house, a street, a humannbeing. A few years ago, it would be unthinkablento say in Manhattan that Hoppernis an artist, not an illustrator …”nSo much for the New York culturalnterror these days. (LT) DnLetter from Paris: The French “New Right’nby Thomas MolnarnI have known Alain de Benoist, ideologicalnleader of the New Right (“NouvellenDroite,” hence ND), for somenfifteen years, which means he was aboutntwenty when we first met. He is not at allnlike the maitres a penser of previous intellectualnmovements; he is neithernpompous nor abscons (abstruse). He is anmodest and amiable man with a sense ofnhumor and a hearty laugh. His emergencenas the “leader of reaction”—a reputationncreated Europe-wide by thenmedia—surprises him because he doesnnot think of himself as a rightist. Onnthe contrary, Benoist has mostly contemptnfor the “old right,” in France andnelsewhere, describing it as fossilized,nnarrowly nationalistic, opposed tonchange and to ideological debate.nYou might say this is leftist rhetoric.nDr. Molnar teaches at New York Universitynwhen he is not traveling.nnnYes and no. One cause of ND’s rapid expansionnover Europe is the fusion ofnsome right-wing arguments with somenleft-wing ones. The common platform isnanticapitalist and anti-Soviet, culturalndiscontent with the consumer-cum-leisurensociety, and the search for an “elsewhere”n(ailleurs) away from the clichesnof “Western civilization” with its verbalnemphasis on the “Judeo-Christian heritage.”nWhatever else the university renbellion of 1968 achieved, its main resultnin retrospect was the blurring of thenhabitual Weltanschauung formulas innEurope’s most original minds, many ofnthem of Benoist’s generation. WhennMaurice Clavel, who died last year at 55,nfirst announced (in 1968) the passing ofnthe age of rationalistic enlightenmentnand bourgeois values, he was helpingnstrikers in the Lip watch-manufacturingncompany. Soon he emerged as an extremelyneffective publicist and televisionndebater for Catholic orthodoxy, coveringnwith sarcasm both progressive andn