Birthplace: Nyack, NY
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: American realist painter, Nighthawks
Father: Garret Henry Hoppe
Mother: Elizabeth Griffiths Smith Hopper
Wife: Josephine Nivison (painter, d. 6-Mar-1968)
High School: Nyack High School, Nyack, NY
University: Correspondence School of Illustrating (1899-1900)
University: New York School of Art (1900-06)
Hopper is famous for capturing the mood and feel of the mid-20th century in his paintings. From lonely diners and hotel rooms to houses on the shore, his paintings lend a vision of what life was like in those times.
Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967) was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching. In both his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life.
Hopper was a good student in grade school and showed talent in drawing at age five. He readily absorbed his father’s intellectual tendencies and love of French and Russian culture and demonstrated his mother’s artistic lineage. Hopper’s parents encouraged his art and kept him readily supplied with materials, instructional magazines, and illustrated books. By his teens, he was working in pen-and-ink, charcoal, watercolor, and oil—drawing from nature as well as making political cartoons. In 1895, he created his first signed oil painting, Rowboat in Rocky Cove, which demonstrated his early interest in nautical subjects.
In his early self-portraits, Hopper tended to represent himself as skinny, ungraceful, and homely. Though a tall and quiet teenager, his prankish sense of humor found outlet in his art, sometimes in depictions of immigrants or of women dominating men in comic situations. Later in life, he would be drawn mostly to depicting women in his paintings. In high school, he dreamed of being a naval architect, but after graduation he declared his intention of following an art career. Hopper’s parents insisted that he study commercial art so he could have a more reliable means of income. In developing his self-image and individualistic philosophy of life, Hopper was influenced by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, as he stated later, “I admire him greatly…I read him over and over again.”
Hopper began his art studies with a correspondence school in 1899. Soon, however, he transferred to the far more prestigious New York Institute of Art and Design. There he studied for six years, with teachers including William Merritt Chase who instructed him in oil painting. Early on, Hopper modeled his style after Chase and French masters Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas. Sketching from live models proved a challenge and a shock for the conservatively raised Hopper.
Another of his teachers, artist Robert Henri, taught life class. Henri encouraged his students to use their art to "make a stir in the world". He also advised his students, “It isn’t the subject that counts but what you feel about it” and “Forget about art and paint pictures of what interests you in life.” In this manner, Henri influenced Hopper, as well as famous students George Bellows and Rockwell Kent, and motivated them to render realistic depictions of urban life. Some artists in Henri's circle, including another teacher of Hopper’s, John Sloan, became members of “The Eight”, also known as the Ashcan School of American Art. His first existing oil painting to hint at his famous interiors was Solitary Figure in a Theater (c.1904). During his student years, Hopper also painted dozens of nudes, still lifes, landscapes, and portraits, including his self-portraits.
Self Portrait By Edward Hopper
Date 1906 (1906)
Author Edward Hopper
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Oil on canvas
25 1/16 x 20 3/8 in
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
© 14 Jul 2002, Nicolas Pioch at WebMuseum, Paris
He initially started out doing urban and architectural scenes in a dark palette. Then he shifted to the lighter palette of the Impressionists before returning to the darker palette that he felt most comfortable with. Hopper later stated, “I got over that and later things done in Paris were more the kind of things I do now.” Hopper spent much of his time drawing street and café scenes, and going to the theater and opera. Unlike many of his contemporaries who imitated the abstract cubist experiments, Hopper was attracted to realist art. Later, however, he admitted to no European influences except for the work of French engraver Charles Meryon, whose moody Paris scenes Hopper imitated.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Edward Hopper at the National Gallery of Art, Washington
In Edward Hopper’s world, everyone is lost in an unending rut of office overtime, rattling El trains, cheap fluorescent diners, and bad dates. Everything has fallen tensely quiet. And this anxious, itchy mood haunts even the urban landscapes — perhaps half his work — in which the only person around is you, the viewer. Here every man is an island.
“Edward Hopper,” a career-spanning survey that opens Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts, reminds us that Hopper has become perhaps the most famous and beloved American artist of the past century by picturing the disquieting film noir isolation lurking at the glass-and-steel heart of our modern metropolises, the frustration of being alone when we’re so damn together. Organized by the MFA, the National Gallery of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago and overseen here by MFA curator Carol Troyen, the show focuses on about 100 works from 1925 to 1950, including many of his most famous paintings.
"I think that this evaluation is missing something: if Hopper paints scenes of desolation, isolation, etc., then why are his paintings - the greatest ones - so engrossing, so pleasurable to look at? Why are we not just bummed out and repelled? There is something positively comforting in his presentation of alienation in paintings such as Nighthawks at the Diner, Gas, and Early Sunday. How does he do it? It has something to do with his bold contrasts of unexpected bright and dark patches. These mute paintings of silent people - or no people at all - still manage to suggest a world within, or just beyond, brimming with possibilities, that draws us in. The silence, and the other things it suggests, somehow form a pair which is tantalizing."
(Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group)
Paintings such as Nighthawks (Art Institute of Chicago, 1942) convey a mood of loneliness and desolation by their emptiness or by the presence of anonymous, non-communicating figures. But of this picture Hopper said: `I didn't see it as particularly lonely... Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.' Deliberately so or not, in his still, reserved, and blandly handled paintings Hopper often exerts a powerful psychological impact -- distantly akin to that made by the Metaphysical painter de Chirico; but while de Chirico's effect was obtained by making the unreal seem real, Hopper's was rooted in the presentation of the familiar and concrete.
(© 14 Jul 2002, Nicolas Pioch at WebMuseum, Paris)
Oil on canvas
30 x 60 in
The Art Institute of Chicago
© 14 Jul 2002, Nicolas Pioch at WebMuseum, Paris
Nighthawks is not an accomplished painting: it is an accomplishment. For members of a younger generation, Nighthawks is an iconographic image and idea that has rippled through situations as disparate as parodies on The Simpsons to regular recreations in cinematic scenes and Gottfried Helnwein's painted homage that replaces Hopper's figures with images of Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Elvis Presley. The painting has a cultural identity that lives as much in its recreation as it does in its original imprint, and there is a whole other Textual nexus of objects that have been produced as the direct results of independent artists experiencing the Text of the original Nighthawks for themselves.
Nighthawks might be more widely recognizable in America than most of the works by Pablo Picasso or even Jackson Pollock because its transparent subjectivity speaks directly to the American experience, its ambiguity encourages every viewer to identify personally with the painting, and it has evolved into a meta-object of American culture. No one knows what, exactly, those people in the diner are thinking, but they don't have to ask either. They are sad. They are lonely. They are desperate and depraved and they cling to one another and to some mysterious strand of waning hope that we all have, at one point, clung to ourselves.
— Christopher Graffeo
(Copyright © 1999-2009 ArtsEditor)
"Apparently, there was a period when every college dormitory in the country had on its walls a poster of Hopper's Nighthawks; it had become an icon. It is easy to understand its appeal. This is not just an image of big-city loneliness, but of existential loneliness: the sense that we have (perhaps overwhelmingly in late adolescence) of being on our own in the human condition. When we look at that dark New York street, we would expect the fluorescent-lit cafe to be welcoming, but it is not. There is no way to enter it, no door. The extreme brightness means that the people inside are held, exposed and vulnerable. They hunch their shoulders defensively. Hopper did not actually observe them, because he used himself as a model for both the seated men, as if he perceived men in this situation as clones. He modeled the woman, as he did all of his female characters, on his wife Jo. He was a difficult man, and Jo was far more emotionally involved with him than he with her; one of her methods of keeping him with her was to insist that only she would be his model.
Text from "Sister Wendy's American Masterpieces":
"From Jo's diaries we learn that Hopper described this work as a painting of "three characters." The man behind the counter, though imprisoned in the triangle, is in fact free. He has a job, a home, he can come and go; he can look at the customers with a half-smile. It is the customers who are the nighthawks. Nighthawks are predators - but are the men there to prey on the woman, or has she come in to prey on the men? To my mind, the man and woman are a couple, as the position of their hands suggests, but they are a couple so lost in misery that they cannot communicate; they have nothing to give each other. I see the nighthawks of the picture not so much as birds of prey, but simply as birds: great winged creatures that should be free in the sky, but instead are shut in, dazed and miserable, with their heads constantly banging against the glass of the world's callousness. In his Last Poems, A. E. Housman (1859-1936) speaks of being "a stranger and afraid/In a world I never made." That was what Hopper felt - and what he conveys so bitterly."
Nighthawks" may be Hopper's take on the term 'night owl' used to describe someone who stays up late. The scene was inspired by a diner (since demolished) in Greenwich Village, Hopper's home neighborhood in Manhattan. The now-vacant lot is known as Mulry Square, at the intersection of Seventh Avenue South, Greenwich Avenue, and West 11th Street.
Hopper began painting it immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After this event there was a widespread feeling of gloominess across the country, a feeling that is portrayed in the painting. The urban street is empty outside the diner, and inside none of the three patrons is apparently looking or talking to the others; all are lost in their own thoughts. Two are a couple, while the third is a man sitting alone, with his back to the viewer. The couple's noses resemble beaks, perhaps a reference to the title. The diner's sole attendant, looking up from his work, appears to be peering out the window past the customers. His age is indeterminate.
The corner of the diner is curved; curved glass connects the large expanse of glass on its two sides. Weather is understood to be warm, based on clothing worn by the patrons. No overcoats are in evidence; the woman's blouse is short-sleeved. Across the street are what appear to be open windows on the second story. The light from the restaurant floods out onto the street outside, and a sliver of light casts its way into one of the windows.
This portrayal of modern urban life as empty or lonely is a common theme throughout Hopper's work. It is sharply outlined by the fact that the man with his back to us appears more lonely because of the couple sitting next to him. If one looks closely, it becomes apparent that there is no way out of the bar area, as the three walls of the counter form a triangle that traps the attendant. It is also notable that the diner has no visible door leading to the outside, which illustrates the idea of confinement and entrapment. Hopper denied that he had intended to communicate this in Nighthawks, but he admitted that "unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city." At the time of the painting, fluorescent lights had just been developed, perhaps contributing to why the diner is casting such an eerie glow upon the almost pitch black outside world. An advertisement for Phillies cigars is featured on top of the diner.
The conclusion can also be drawn that Hopper painted the emptiness pervading the city. This conclusion can be substantiated by the observation that three-quarters of the painting is empty and has no sign of human life in it.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)