Andrew Lamar Hopkins is a self-taught historical folk artist. Hopkins, currently working out of New Orleans, calls himself “ ‘a realist Folk Artist’. A folk artist because I’m self taught. Realist because my artwork is realistic in the 19th century American tradition of folk artist.” His richly detailed paintings, mainly focusing on the Gulf Coast Creole lifestyle, are colorful depictions of architecture, interiors, people and place. In Hopkins own words, “I want my historically influenced paintings to be attractive, and colorful, and also have educational value, displaying the histories which surround us.”
From childhood he was fascinated with history, architecture, antiques and art of his native city, Mobile, Alabama. He was encouraged by his parents and teachers to interpret what he loved through his art. As a hobby, he would sculpt miniatures of old world villages and Southern antebellum cities.
He began to paint as a teenager when his family moved to New Orleans, a city also known for it’s French and Spanish influenced culture and architecture. After Hurricane Katrina, he spent a decade in Baltimore, another old Southern port city. He also studied in France. Over the past 17 years, he has visited Paris 30 times and created 300 works depicting historic New Orleans residences and their inhabitants. “I went to Paris the first time when I was 20,” says Hopkins, whose family moved from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans during his teens. “I felt like [France] is where I should have been born.”
Hopkins is passionate about France and its cultural influence in Louisiana.
Hopkins’ affinity for all things French began in childhood. As a boy he used clay to create accurate miniatures of 18th- and 19th-century antiques and later expanded his miniature-métier to include complete rooms, featuring details such as cornice moldings and marbleized mantels. Today, he paints 18th and 19th century interiors and people and describes his work as “historical folk outsider art.” His period subject matter and simple, non-dimensional renderings of people are reminiscent of the Early American Primitive School of portrait painters, a comparison he welcomes as an admirer of renowned painters Joshua Johnson and Julien Hudson (both of mixed race heritage like Hopkins himself). “As I began to paint, people told me my style was Naïve,” recalls the self-taught artist, who juxtaposes his Naïve human forms with meticulously replicated decorative elements and vivid colors true to the fashions of the time.