Andrew LaMar Hopkins
Thom Bennett Photograph
An avowed Francophile and person of Creole descent, artist Andrew LaMar Hopkins is passionate about France and its cultural influence in Louisiana. 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’ 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.
Five years ago, Hopkins found that his historic tableaus intersected his own life. “I discovered I was kin to a major Creole family whose French ancestors came from Tours, France, in 1710,” he says. On his paternal side, he is a direct descendent of Nicolas Baudin, who obtained a land grant in 1710 for an island south of Mobile, which he named Mon Louis after his hometown of Mont Louis, France. As a descendent of Baudin, he also is related to several French governors of Louisiana.
Hopkins’ paintings often include famous Creoles of New Orleans such as John James Audubon and Marie Laveau and are displayed in such well-known local establishments as Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and Lucullus. New works are for sale at Nadine Blake and Rue Royale Gallery. He also works by commission. Current commissions include an 1855 Creole townhouse in Treme (built for Louise Vitry, a free woman of color) and the Jacques Dupré house, a historic plantation in Pointe Coupée Parish.
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