Edward Hopper is one of my all-time favorite artists. He uses shadows, framing, and the time of day to translate loneliness in just the right way. His paintings remind me of that scene in Barton Fink where Barton is mesmerized by the painting, in his hotel room—the picture of the girl on the beach, looking out toward the water.
Edward Hopper is famous for his 1942 painting Nighthawks, but it was another of his paintings that made me love his work. I first saw New York Movie (above) in an art magazine. Its detail, atmosphere, and colors immediately shook me, which is strange since the painting is so still. I felt like I could completely understand it and relate to it, and I liked thinking about what the girl in the painting could be going through. I love how it could be anything in her mind—does she have a big audition coming up? Is she crying at the film? Did she just discover she is pregnant?—and that you see the audience and just the tiniest snippet of the movie playing. The gloves, the deep blue, the elegant curtain, and the overall personality of the painting are just amazing. Later I realized that this was the same artist who was behind the well-known Nighthawks, and I saw that he could capture loneliness in any setting.
One of my favorite things about his style is his use of light. Whether it’s the orange tint of the sun setting or the eerie glow of artificial lamplight coming from the window of a house, Edward Hopper chose his light flawlessly. It adds mystery and moodiness to each of his paintings, and it is just as much of a character as his humans.
Here are a few of my Edward Hopper favorites.