In many of Edward Hopper’s paintings, the subjects (people or locations) are intentionally isolated. Why did the artist use this as his theme and claim to fame?
I think Edward Hopper was a great Realist painter. He was born in 1882 and spent fifty-four years of his life in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York where he drew ideas for the themes of many of his paintings.
Perhaps that is where he studied the nature of people and where he was intuitive to the conditions of the human spirit. He saw despair in the individual and chose to pursue the topic of isolation and despair.
Hopper is best known for his use of shadow, light, and color, and has been compared to the abstract artist Piet Mondrian who was born only ten years earlier.
I think the beauty of Hopper’s paintings is that buildings and streets as well as people are depicted as being cold and vacant. These inanimate objects take on a life and breathe of their own. Even when there are two or more people in a scene, they are alone, in their own thoughts and space.
One of Hopper’s many iconic paintings is "Nighthawks" (1942) from the Art Institute of Chicago. I was fortunate to have seen this and other Hopper paintings last year at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
I was really impressed by the sheer size of the paintings as well as the composition.
The subject for "Nighthawks" was inspired by a diner in New York City, and this became the backdrop for his "drama."
It can be said that Hopper’s paintings are similar to a still frame in a movie. All the components of a movie exist: the scenery, character(s), lighting, costumes.
All that is absent is sound and action. Perhaps Hopper wanted the viewer to imagine a story around the one still, leaving the outcome up for one’s personal interpretation.
If you would like your own print of Edward Hopper’s "Nighthawks," it is available here from Allposters.com.
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