Edward Hopper: Gas, Summertime, Hotel by a Railroad, Self Portrait, Nighthawks

Gas by Edward Hopper. 1940, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1940 gasoline was around 18 cents a gallon and the average new car cost $800.

Summertime by Hopper. Painted in 1943, currently in the Delaware Art Museum. I’m not sure how far one should carry the visual analogy here. 1943 was the year the war in Europe started to turn in the Allies favor with Hitler having made the Russian front a priority. A mistake that would come back to bite the German war machine. On the other hand there was a large race riot in Detroit in which 25 African Americans and five whites died.

Hotel by a Railroad by Hopper. 1952, currently at the Hirshhorn Museum. One of several of Hopper’s works that examine solitude. Some would say loneliness and isolation and those elements are there, but it says more about being with others and being somewhat comfortable yet still being detached. This particular painting also about how years of domesticcity takes wears away those youthful illusions of starry eyed romance.

Hopper’s Self-Portrait (1925-30). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. I find self portraits fascinating. Not so much because they give us some great insight into the artist, but because they tend to have, and this one of Hopper certainly, a utilitarian function. He seems to have looked at himself and said OK, so here I am. A ordinary man that is also an artist for those that are curious. Like his other subjects he isn’t just one adjective – sad, lonely, isolated, happy or serious. he’s all those things. Hopper once said and it matches his self portrait, ‘The man’s the work. Something doesn’t come out of nothing.’

Nighthawks (1942). Not as nice a print as I’d like to have, but since it is Hopper’s most well known painting I felt obligated to put it up. The diner was in Greenwich Village. Hopper started painting it after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a subtle way the painting reflected the sober mood of the country after the attack. The original currently resides at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Edward Hopper Exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Clean modern flash presentation of Hopper’s work with a timeline and the themes explored in his paintings and sketches.

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