|The Nighthawks, 1942, Edward Hopper|
|Edward Hopper Self-portrait, 1903|
Edward Hopper was often evasive and guarded. He frequently denied stringently the popular readings of his paintings. He did not, he would insist, intentionally im-bue his urban scenes with an unspoken pregnancy of human feeling, an eerie, uncommunicative atmosphere of the mod-ern metropolis, with which they’ve become associated. But when reflecting on his most successful and evocative painting, even Hopper himself had to admit it: “Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.” Nighthawks was completed in January of 1942, just weeks after Pearl Harbor and the United States subsequent joining of the Second World War. One might guess that a downtown diner would be alive with news, debate, and speculation at such a historic time. Hopper instead chooses to observe an oppressive silence, picking out the figures and their features in a way which suggests great, silent distances between them, despite sharing the same bubble of space and time.
|The neighborhood....almost deserted.|
|The center offers little of interest to the viewer.|
|The man behind the counter seems to communicate, but doesn't.|
|Are they together or simply together apart?|
|Nighthawks preliminary drawings.|
|A map of the Greenwich Avenue area with early guesses marked with X's and the likely actual site (just above) circled in red.|
The experts comment:
Nighthawks has inspired countless other artists. By the same token, there may be some influence from Van Gogh's Café At Night. Based on the similar theme and concentration on the play of light at night, Van Gogh's piece may have sparked Hopper's ideas. Interestingly, Café at Night was exhibited in New York in January of 1942, right as Hopper was working on Nighthawks. Though well after Hopper began his painting, it's probable he would have seen Van Gogh’s painting, inasmuch as his own works were also on display at the same venue. Among several other works later inspired by The Nighthawks, likely the most famous is Gottfried Heinwein's version titled Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (below).
|Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Gottfried Heinwein |
based on Hopper's The Nighthawks. Can you identify
the tragic 1950s movie celebrities?