Hopper was a part of the Ashcan School of American Realism.
Studied under Robert Henri (trailblazer of American Realism).
His paintings focus on theme of loneliness and solitude of America during the interwar years the Depression years.
Hopper’s work doesn’t idealise nor satirise middle-class America, rather it offers us a view into what middle-America was like, which could explain why his work resonates so well with audiences.
He had travelled to Europe during the early 20 th century and got to see the works of the abstract masters (Picasso et al.) but European Realism resonated more with Hooper.
Nighthawks (1942) Oil on Canvas One of Hopper’s most famous paintings, describe the way he has treated the figures within this work. What do you think Hopper might be interested in communicating with his audience in this work?
This was one of Hopper’s most important and memorable works.
It was painted in Greenwich Village, NYC near Hopper’s neighbourhood.
The objects within the work (coffee urns, water glasses, bar stool) are painted with ‘deadpan’ precision and echo the loneliness of the customers in the café. It is as if the objects themselves are customers as well.
What is interesting about this work is that we, as the audience, are looking into this scene with a sense of wonder and curiosity.
Who are these people? What is their relation to one another? What time of night was this painted?
New York Movie (1939) Oil on Canvas How has Hopper broken up the composition? How is he using light stylistically? Again, what about the treatment of the figure (ie. the woman).
A Woman in the Sun (1961) Oil on Canvas What visual clues has Hopper included within this work to provide meaning to us as the audience? How might this be a comment on Hopper’s understanding of America in the 1960s?
Edward Hopper Chair Car (1965) Oil on Canvas
Now iconoclastic, his works have a sense of an autobiographical nature. They tell the story of one man’s life in observation in America.
His works express both a sense of urban isolation and the bittersweet comfort of being alone.
Many of Hopper’s works that are done with a sense of complete observation, often the subjects are unaware of the artist being present.
What is also interesting in Hopper’s work is it’s ability to create interest in the audience to some of the most mundane scenes.
During his time in Europe he spent a lot of time wandering around, not soaking up the culture but observing the things he saw.
Some critics liken Hoppers work to that of the Dutch Renaissance painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
Rembrandt van Rijn The Company of Frans Banning Cock Preparing to March Out (The Nightwatch) (1642) Oil on canvas
Edward Hopper The Lighthouse at Two Lights (1929) Oil on Canvas
Edward Hopper Bootleggers (date unknown) Oil on Canvas Edward Hopper Night Shadows (1921) Etching
Edward Hopper Corn Hill (Truro, Cape Cod) (1930) Oil on canvas
Edward Hopper The Mansard Roof (1923) Watercolour on paper
Like his paintings of people, his landscapes capture the sense of loneliness.
There is always a sense of the human element with his works and a sense of stoicism, we almost feel the emptiness and can identify with it, yet we are not saddened by the emptiness.
The Mansard Roof was Hopper’s breakthrough painting, it was his first commercially successful work and sold for $100 to the Brooklyn Museum.
His landscapes were a documentation of his travels around the eastern US. Hopper said of his work, “ to me the most important thing is the sense of going on. You know how beautiful things are when you're travelling.”
Edward Hopper Early Sunday Morning ( 1930) Oil on canvas