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Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, an American Realist painter whose highly individualistic works are a benchmark of American realism, epitomizes an art awareness that eerily depicts contemporary American life as characterized by isolation, melancholy, and loneliness.Birth and childhoodEdward was born on July 22, 1882, in the small Hudson River town of Nyack, New York. Hopper knew that he wanted to be an artist as early as 1899, the year of his 17th birthday.He first attended a school of commercial art and illustration in New York City, New York, in 1899. The chief instructor was William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), a painter who imitated the style of John Singer Sargent. He and his fellow students were urged to develop a realistic style, depicting urban culture.Early careerAs many young artists do, Hopper wanted to study in France. In October 1906, his wish was fulfilled when, with his parents' aid, he left for the Continent. However, after those trips, he never again sojourned in Europe.Hopper was greatly moved by the works of Diego Velazquez, Francisco de Goya, Honore Daumier, and Edouard Manet. His early paintings exhibited some of the basic Realism characteristics that he would carry all the way through his career, a balanced, combinative style based on simple, large analytical forms; broad areas of color, and the use of architectural fundamentals in his scenes.For many years, memories of days abroad dominated Hopper's painting style. Following that attempt, Hopper renewed his efforts by using homegrown American subjects, for which he is remembered most.Edward Hopper made his first sale in 1913, at an exposition in New York. For several years after he turned 37, Hopper earned a living as a commercial illustrator.MarriageIn 1923, Josephine Nivison, whom he had known when they were students under Chase and Henri, entered his life once more. The same year they married, the winds of fortune changed for Hopper.Later careerEdward Hopper's banner year was 1924. Hopper’s career took off and would be remarkably unaffected by The Great Depression of the Thirties. Edward Hopper had made his mark on the world.The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) held a 1929 exhibition, Paintings by Nineteen Living Americans, which included Hopper's work. Although his work lay outside the mainstream of mid-20th-century abstraction, his simplified schematic style was one of the influences on the later representational revival, and on pop art.Latter daysHopper worked into his old age, dividing his time between New York City and Truro, Massachusetts. Edward Hopper's fame did not endure as his muse dried up. His wife, who died 10 months later, bequeathed his work to the Whitney Museum of American Art.In 2004, the world remembered and honored Hopper when many of his paintings toured Europe, stopping at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany, and at the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London. The Hopper exhibition became the second most popular in the latter gallery's history, with more than 400,000 visitors in the three months it was open.

See also Andrew Wyeth and Jackson Pollock.

Edward Hopper And The Scent Of Loneliness

I remember watching Edward Hopper’s piece for the first time. Of course it was his famous Nighthawks – you know this painting – it’s late night, people are sitting in a cheap restaurant, a couple is waiting for their order. If you’ve ever been a “nighthawk” yourself you know that feeling of fatigue, smell of cigarettes and digested alcohol. Tiredness and lost illusions.

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, Art Institute of Chicago

Hopper was a master of loneliness. Only he painted melancholy in such a way, that when you look at these people you can sense their secrets. Because sometimes your secrets are quite similar to theirs.

In Automat 1927, a woman sits alone drinking a cup of coffee. It is late and cold outside. The room seems large, brightly lit and empty. The woman looks self-conscious and slightly afraid, unused to being alone in a public place. Something appears to have gone wrong.

Edward Hopper, Automat, 1927, Des Moines Art Center

In A Woman in the Sun a woman is standing nakeda shaft of raking light from a nearby window with a cigarette.in her hand. She forgot to lit it. She seems to have forgotten herself. She even forget to lit a cigarette. Detached from the outside world she is waiting for the things to happen.

Edward Hopper, A Woman in the Sun, 1961, Whitney Museum of Art

I can’t think of any other artist who was so perfect in catching loneliness, resignation and despair of modern people.

The Incomparable Christ

More than 1900 years ago a Man was born contrary to the laws of nature. This man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which he lived that was during His childhood when He was in exile in Egypt.

He possessed neither wealth nor influence, his relatives were inconspicuous, and had neither training nor formal education.

In infancy He startled a king in childhood He puzzled doctors in manhood He ruled the course of nature He walked upon the billows as if pavements, and hushed the sea to sleep.

He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services.

He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries in the world could not hold the books that have been written about Him.

He never wrote a song and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the song writers combined.

He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.

He never marshalled an army, nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun and yet no leader had more volunteers who have under His orders, made more rebels stack arms and surrender without a shot being fired.

He never practiced psychiatry, and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors far and near.

Once every week the wheels of commerce cease their turning and multitudes wend their way to worshipping assemblies to pay homage and respect to Him.

The names of the proud statemen of Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of the past scientists, philosophers and theologians have come and gone but the name of this Man abounds more and more.

Though time has spread more than 1900 years between the people of his generation and the scene of His crucifixion, yet He lives. Herod could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold him.

He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints and feared by demons as the risen, personal Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

At this season The Incomparable Christ is still standing at many a heart’s door, seeking admission. His words says: “Behold I stand at the door and knock if any man will hear My voice and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

Also, “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest gift ever given to the world. He can be yours. IS HE?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).


His early career was marked with struggle. He rented a studio and embarked upon the journey. The medium he first used was of oil painting. He painted his first oil-painting in 1895 of a Rowboat in Rocky Cove.

After being forced to use his skill for earning, he took up the job of an illustrator. However, this was not what he desired, and as an escape, he set out on a journey to Europe. The journey, centered in Paris, was to prove an important landmark in Hopper’s life. With Picasso already painting masterpieces, the stage was set for modern art. Although Hopper did not have an encounter with Picasso, he learned about modern art and inclined towards the impressionist type of art. Hence, he took up the lighter palette, particularly inspired by Monet and Van Gogh, giving up the dark illustrations.

Hopper returned from the European expedition in 1910. Unfortunately, he had to strive for recognition. His creations received little appreciation. What little recognition he received was for oil painting and etching-work. He achieved his first major breakthrough at the age of 31 when he sold his oil-painting. He had hoped this would lead to further success, but he still had quite a lot of struggle to carry out.

In 1912, he traveled to Gloucester, Massachusetts, and made his first outdoor painting using oil paint. This was called the Squam Light . This preceded his many lighthouse paintings to come yet.

In 1913, he earned 250$ by selling his first self-portrait painting called Sailing . He kept working through this period and was occasionally invited to conduct exhibitions at small venues. Throughout this period, he kept on creating posters for movies and theatre, for which he felt a deep attachment. He created war posters and gained recognition for them.

Reluctantly, he turned to illustrations and worked as a freelancer to earn a living. Hopper struggled to define his own style, often shifting from one form of art to another. He returned to etching, in which he had received major acclaim. Through the 1920s, he worked in this medium, and most of his works are in this style of art. These include Night on the El Train , Evening Wind, and Catboat .

During this period, he also painted a few of his famous paintings and gained some praise. He was invited to conduct a single-person exhibit to show his works. These exhibitions came more frequently, and he found that he was being appreciated better.

The Museum of Modern Art acquired one of his famous paintings, House by the Railroad, in 1925. His famous paintings were the work of impressions. Play of light and color and sharply defined edges were a salient feature. He had finally started receiving the praise he deserved!

Edward Hopper

Born in Nyack, New York, Edward Hopper (1882-1967) is recognized as one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century. His spare and finely calculated renderings of urban and rural scenes reflected his personal vision of modern American life.

Encouraged to study illustration by his parents, Hopper took courses at the Correspondence School of Illustrating, and at the New York School of Art. Noted illustrator/painters Arthur Ignatius Keller, Frank Vincent DuMond, Kenneth Hayes Miller, and Robert Henri were among his teachers. John Sloan, who worked regularly as a commercial artist prior to 1916, also was an early influence.

In 1906, Hopper landed a part-time job at an advertising agency and went on to create images for such popular magazines as Scribner&rsquos Magazine, Everbody's Magazine, and Country Gentleman, and for specialty journals like Hotel Management, The Morse Dial, and Wells Fargo Messenger. A very private individual, he left no written reflections on his two-decade career as an illustrator, even though he believed that an artist&rsquos mature development was linked to the work of his formative years.

Between 1906 and 1910, the artist made three trips to Paris. Unlike other American artists of the time, Hopper ignored the innovations of the city&rsquos most avant-garde artists, favoring an earlier generation of European painters, including Rembrandt, Degas, and the Impressionists, whose work was praised by his former teacher Robert Henri.

Attracted to realist art, Hopper began producing etchings and painting urban and architectural scenes in a dark palette. His first one-person exhibition was held in January 1920 at the Whitney Studio Club, founded five years earlier by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. In July 1924, Hopper married Josephine Verstille Nivison, a fellow painter whom he had met in art school.

Hopper was very productive through the next four decades, producing such important works as Automat (1927), Chop Suey (1929), New York Movie (1939), Girlie Show (1941), Nighthawks (1942), Hotel Lobby (1943), Morning in a City (1944), and Hotel by a Railroad (1952). The influence of his distinctive style is felt to this day, extending beyond painting into photography, film, and popular culture.

Purchase The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator Exhibit Catalog here.

Illustrations by Edward Hopper

Additional Resources


Goodrich, Lloyd. Edward Hopper. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1970.

Kranzfelder, Ivo. Edward Hopper, 1882-1967: Vision of Reality. New York: Taschen, 1988.

Levin, Gail. Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Schmied, Wieland. Edward Hopper: Portraits of America. New York: Prestel, 1995.

Souter, Gerry. Edward Hopper: Light and Dark. New York: Parkstone Press International, 2007.

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      Hopper: The Supreme American Realist of the 20th-Century

      Painting did not come easily to Edward Hopper. Each canvas represented a long, morose gestation spent in solitary thought. There were no sweeping brushstrokes from a fevered hand, no electrifying eurekas. He considered, discarded and pared down ideas for months before he squeezed even a drop of paint onto his palette. In the early 1960s, the artist Raphael Soyer visited Hopper and his wife, Josephine, in their summer house on a bluff above the sea in Cape Cod. Soyer found Hopper sitting in front gazing at the hills and Jo, as everyone called her, in back, staring in the opposite direction. "That's what we do," she said to Soyer. "He sits in his spot and looks at the hills all day, and I look at the ocean, and when we meet there's controversy, controversy, controversy." Expressed with Jo's characteristic flash (an artist herself and once an aspiring actress, she knew how to deliver a line), the vignette summarizes both Hopper's creative process and the couple's fractious yet enduring relationship. Similarly, Hopper's close friend, American painter and critic Guy Pène du Bois, once wrote that Hopper "told me. that it had taken him years to bring himself into the painting of a cloud in the sky."

      Related Content

      "The painter," Edward Hopper often observed, "paints to reveal himself through what he sees in his subject." Chop Suey dates from 1929. (Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) />Hopper, in his 40s, in a 1925-30 self-portrait. (Whitney Museum of American Art, Josephine N. Hopper Bequest /Photography by Robert E. Mates / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) The watercolors Hopper created in Massachusetts in the 1920s led to his first professional recognition (House and Harbor, 1924). (Private Collection / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) In New York Corner, 1913, Hopper introduced a motif of red-brick buildings and a pattern of opened and closed windows. (Private Collection, Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery and Martha Parrish & James Reinish, Inc. / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Hopper used his red-brick-rhythmic-window motif In Early Sunday Morning (1930) to create a sense of familiarity and eerie silence. (Whitney Museum of American Art / Photograph by Steven Sloman / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) The intriguing Night Windows (1928) is at once voyeuristic and mysterious one can only guess at what the woman is up to. (Museum of Modern Art, NY. Gift of John Hay Whitney / SCALA / Art Resource/ Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Hopper "offers slices of an insoluble life, moments in a narrative that can have no closure," wrote art critic Robert Hughes. Hopper painted Cape Cod Morning, which he said came nearer to what he felt than some other works, in 1950. (Smithsonian American Art Museum / Art Resource) Nighthawks (1942) (The Art Institute of Chicago / Friends of American Art Collection / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Automat (1927) (Des Moines Art Center, Iowa / Michael Tropea, Chicago / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) The Mansard Roof (1923) (The Brooklyn Museum, New York, Museum Collection Fund / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Captain Upton's House (1927) (Collection of Steve Martin / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Hills, South Truro (1930) (The Cleveland Museum of Art, Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection / Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) Night Shadows (1921) (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Gift of William Emerson)

      For all his cautious deliberation, Hopper created more than 800 known paintings, watercolors and prints, as well as numerous drawings and illustrations. The best of them are uncanny distillations of New England towns and New York City architecture, with exact time and place arrested. His stark yet intimate interpretations of American life, sunk in shadow or broiling in the sun, are minimal dramas suffused with maximum power. Hopper had a remarkable ability to invest the most ordinary scene—whether at a roadside gas pump, a nondescript diner or a bleak hotel room—with intense mystery, creating narratives that no viewer can ever quite unravel. His frozen and isolated figures often seem awkwardly drawn and posed, but he eschewed making them appear too graceful or showy, which he felt would be false to the mood he sought to establish. Hopper's fidelity to his own vision, which lingered on the imperfections of human beings and their concerns, made his work a byword for honesty and emotional depth. Critic Clement Greenberg, the leading exponent of Abstract Expressionism, saw the paradox. Hopper, he wrote in 1946, "is not a painter in the full sense his means are second-hand, shabby, and impersonal." Yet Greenberg was discerning enough to add: "Hopper simply happens to be a bad painter. But if he were a better painter, he would, most likely, not be so superior an artist."

      Hopper was as pensive as the people he put on canvas. Indeed, the enigmatic quality of the paintings was enhanced by the artist's public persona. Tall and solidly built with a massive balding head, he reminded observers of a piece of granite—and was about as forthcoming. He was unhelpful to journalists seeking details or anecdotes. "The whole answer is there on the canvas," he would stubbornly reply. But he also said, "The man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing." The art historian Lloyd Goodrich, who championed Hopper in the 1920s, thought that the artist and his work coalesced. "Hopper had no small talk," Goodrich wrote. "He was famous for his monumental silences but like the spaces in his pictures, they were not empty. When he did speak, his words were the product of long meditation. About the things that interested him, especially art. he had perceptive things to say, expressed tersely but with weight and exactness, and uttered in a slow reluctant monotone."

      As to controversy, there is little left anymore. Hopper's star has long blazed brightly. He is arguably the supreme American realist of the 20th century, encapsulating aspects of our experience so authentically that we can hardly see a tumbledown house near a deserted road or a shadow slipping across a brownstone facade except through his eyes. Given Hopper's iconic status, it is surprising to learn that no comprehensive survey of his work has been seen in American museums outside New York City in more than 25 years. This drought has been remedied by "Edward Hopper," a retrospective currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through August 19 and continuing on to Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery of Art (Sept. 16, 2007-Jan. 21, 2008) and the Art Institute of Chicago (Feb. 16-May 11, 2008). Consisting of more than 100 paintings, watercolors and prints, most of them dating from roughly 1925 to 1950, the period of the artist's greatest achievement, the show spotlights Hopper's most compelling compositions.

      "The emphasis is on connoisseurship, an old-fashioned term, but we selected rigorously," says Carol Troyen, a curator of American painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and one of the organizers—along with the Art Institute's Judith Barter and the National Gallery's Franklin Kelly—of the exhibition. "Hopper is recognized as a brilliant creator of images, but we also wanted to present him as an artist dedicated to the craft of painting whose work must be seen in person. His art is far more subtle than any reproduction reveals."

      Edward Hopper was born July 22, 1882, in Nyack, New York, 25 miles north of New York City, into a family of English, Dutch, French and Welsh ancestry. His maternal grandfather built the house—preserved today as a landmark and community art center—where he and his sister, Marion, who was two years older, grew up. Hopper's father, Garrett Henry Hopper, was a dry goods merchant. His mother, Elizabeth Griffiths Smith Hopper, enjoyed drawing, and both his parents encouraged their son's artistic inclinations and preserved his early sketches of himself, his family and the local countryside. Gangling and self-effacing, Edward, who was over six feet tall at age 12, was teased by his classmates. His differentness probably reinforced solitary pursuits—he gravitated to the river, to sketching, to sailing and to painting. Even as a child, Hopper recalled, he noticed "that the light on the upper part of a house was different than that on the lower part. There is a sort of elation about sunlight on the upper part of a house."

      Although Hopper's parents recognized their son's gifts and let him study art, they were prudent enough to require that he specialize in illustration as a way to make a living. After graduating from high school in 1899, Hopper enrolled in a commercial art school in New York City and stayed there about a year, after which he transferred to the New York School of Art, founded in 1896 by the American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Hopper continued to study illustration but also learned to paint from the most influential teachers of the day, including Chase, Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Both Chase and Henri had been influenced by Frans Hals, Velázquez and French Impressionism, particularly as exemplified by Édouard Manet. Henri encouraged his students to emancipate themselves from tired academic formulas, espousing a realism that plunged into the seamier aspects of American cities for its subject matter. As a successful artist looking back, Hopper had reservations about Henri as a painter, but he always granted that his teacher was a vigorous advocate for an enlightened way of seeing. Inspired by Henri's motivating force, the youthful Hopper stayed on at the school for six years, drawing from life and painting portraits and genre scenes. To support himself, he taught art there and also worked as a commercial artist. Hopper and his friend Rockwell Kent were both in Miller's class, and some of their early debates turned on painterly problems that remained of paramount fascination for Hopper. "I've always been intrigued by an empty room," he remembered. "When we were at school. [we] debated what a room looked like when there was nobody to see it, nobody looking in, even." In an empty room absence could suggest presence. This idea preoccupied Hopper for his entire life, from his 20s through his last years, as is evident in Rooms by the Sea and Sun in an Empty Room, two majestic pictures from the 1950s and '60s.

      Another essential part of a budding artist's education was to go abroad. By saving money from his commercial assignments, Hopper was able to make three trips to Europe between 1906 and 1910. He lived primarily in Paris, and in letters home he rhapsodized about the beauty of the city and its citizens' appreciation of art.

      Despite Hopper's enjoyment of the French capital, he registered little of the innovation or ferment that engaged other resident American artists. At the time of Hopper's first visit to Paris, the Fauves and the Expressionists had already made their debuts, and Picasso was moving toward Cubism. Hopper saw memorable retrospectives of Courbet, whom he admired, and Cézanne, about whom he complained. "Many Cézannes are very thin," he later told writer and artist Brian O'Doherty. "They don't have weight." In any case, Hopper's own Parisian pictures gave intimations of the painter he was to become. It was there that he put aside the portrait studies and dark palette of the Henri years to concentrate on architecture, depicting bridges and buildings glowing in the soft French light.

      After returning to the United States in 1910, Hopper never visited Europe again. He was set on finding his way as an American, and a transition toward a more individual style can be detected in New York Corner, painted in 1913. In that canvas, he introduces the motif of red-brick buildings and the rhythmic fugue of opened and closed windows that he would bring to a sensational pitch in the late 1920s with The City, From Williamsburg Bridge and Early Sunday Morning. But New York Corner is transitional the weather is misty rather than sunny, and a throng uncharacteristically congregates in front of a stoop. When asked years later what he thought of a 1964 exhibition of artist Reginald Marsh's work, the master of pregnant, empty spaces replied, "He has more people in one picture than I have in all my paintings."

      In December 1913, Hopper moved from Midtown to Greenwich Village, where he rented a high-ceilinged, top-floor apartment at 3 Washington Square North, a brick town house overlooking the storied square. The combined living and work space was heated by a potbellied stove, the bathroom was in the hall, and Hopper had to climb four flights of stairs to fetch coal for the stove or pick up the paper. But it suited him perfectly.

      Hopper sold one painting in 1913 but didn't make another major sale for a decade. To support himself, he continued to illustrate business and trade journals, assignments he mostly detested. In 1915 he took up printmaking as a way to remain engaged as an artist. His etchings and drypoints found greater acceptance than his paintings and at $10 to $20 each, they occasionally sold. Along with the bridges, buildings, trains and elevated railroads that already were familiar elements in his work, the prints feature a bold development: Hopper began portraying women as part of the passing scene and as the focus of male longing. The etching Night on the El Train is a snapshot of a pair of lovers oblivious to everyone else. In Evening Wind, a curvaceous nude climbs onto a bed on whose other side the artist seems to be sitting as he scratches a lovely chiaroscuro moment into a metal plate. In these etchings, New York is a nexus of romantic possibilities, overflowing with fantasies tantalizingly on the brink of fulfillment.

      Between 1923 and 1928, Hopper often spent time during the summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing village and art colony on Cape Ann. There he devoted himself to watercolor, a less cumbersome medium that allowed him to work outdoors, painting humble shacks as well as the grand mansions built by merchants and sea captains. The watercolors marked the beginning of Hopper's real professional recognition. He entered six of them in a show at the Brooklyn Museum in November 1923. The museum bought one, The Mansard Roof, a view of an 1873 house that showcases not only the structure's solidity, but the light, air and breeze playing over the building. A year later, Hopper sent a fresh batch of Gloucester watercolors to New York dealer Frank Rehn, whose Fifth Avenue gallery was devoted to prominent American painters. After Rehn mounted a Hopper watercolor show in October 1924 that was a critical and financial smash, the artist quit all commercial work and lived by his art for the rest of his life.

      Hopper's career as a watercolorist had been jump-started by the encouragement of Josephine Verstille Nivison, an artist whom Hopper had first courted in 1923 in Gloucester. The two wed in July 1924. As both were over 40, with established living habits, adjusting to each other took some effort. Their marriage was close—Josephine moved into her husband's Washington Square quarters and did not have a separate work space for many years—and turbulent, for they were physical and temperamental opposites. Towering over her, he was stiff-necked and slow-moving she was small, snappy and birdlike, quick to act and quicker to speak, which some said was constantly. Accounts of Jo Hopper's chattering are legion, but her vivacity and conversational ease must have charmed her future husband, at least initially, for these were traits he lacked. "Sometimes talking with Eddie is just like dropping a stone in a well," Jo quipped, "except that it doesn't thump when it hits bottom." As time passed, he tended to disregard her she resented him. But Hopper probably could not have tolerated a more conventional wife. "Marriage is difficult," Jo told a friend. "But the thing has to be gone through." To which Hopper retorted, "Living with one woman is like living with two or three tigers." Jo kept her husband's art ledgers, guarded against too many guests, put up with his creative dry spells and put her own life on hold when he roused himself into working. She posed for nearly every female figure in his canvases, both for his convenience and her peace of mind. They formed a bond that only Edward's death, at age 84, in 1967 would break. Jo survived him by just ten months, dying 12 days before her 85th birthday.

      Jo Hopper's availability as a model likely spurred her husband toward some of the more contemporary scenes of women and couples that became prominent in his oils of the mid- and late 1920s and gave several of them a Jazz Age edge. In Automat and Chop Suey, smartly clothed independent women, symbols of the flapper era, animate a heady cosmopolitan milieu. Chop Suey had an especially personal meaning for the Hoppers—the scene and the place derive from a Columbus Circle Chinese restaurant where they often ate during their courtship.

      Hopper ignored much of the city's hurly-burly he avoided its tourist attractions and landmarks, including the skyscraper, in favor of the homely chimney pots rising on the roofs of commonplace houses and industrial lofts. He painted a number of New York's bridges, though not the most famous, the Brooklyn Bridge. He reserved his greatest affection for unexceptional 19th- and early 20th-century structures. Echoing his Gloucester watercolors (and decades ahead of the historic preservation movement), he treasured vernacular buildings, drawing satisfaction from things that stayed as they were.

      By the late 1920s, Hopper was in full command of a powerful urban vision. He had completed several extraordinary paintings that seemed almost carved out of the materials they were depicting, brick by brick and rivet by rivet. Manhattan Bridge Loop (1928) and Early Sunday Morning (1930) match the monumental scale of New York itself, whereas Night Windows (1928) acknowledges in an almost cinematic way the strange nonchalance that results from lives lived in such close proximity: even when you think you are alone, you are observed—and accept the fact. The unsettling nature of Night Windows derives from the position of the viewer—directly across from a half-dressed woman's derrière. The painting suggests that Hopper may have affected movies as much as they affected him. When German director Wim Wenders, a Hopper fan, was asked why the artist appeals to so many filmmakers, he said: "You can always tell where the camera is."

      With the creation of such distinctive paintings, Hopper's reputation soared. Two on the Aisle sold in 1927 for $1,500, and Manhattan Bridge Loop brought $2,500 in 1928. That same year, Frank Rehn took in more than $8,000 for Hopper's oils and watercolors, which yielded the artist about $5,300 (more than $64,000 today). In January 1930, House by the Railroad became the first painting by any artist to enter the permanent collection of New York's newly established Museum of Modern Art. Later that year, the Whitney Museum of American Art bought Early Sunday Morning for $2,000 it would become a cornerstone of that new institution's permanent collection. The august Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased Tables for Ladies for $4,500 in 1931, and in November 1933, the Museum of Modern Art gave Hopper a retrospective exhibition, an honor rarely bestowed on living American artists. He was 51.

      Since 1930, the Hoppers had spent summer vacations in South Truro, Massachusetts, near the tip of Cape Cod. A small town situated between Wellfleet and Provincetown, Truro had kept its local character. In 1933 Jo received an inheritance, which the couple used to build a house there it was completed the next year. The Hoppers would spend nearly every summer and early autumn in Truro for the remainder of their lives.

      By the end of the 1930s, Hopper had changed his working methods. More and more, instead of painting outside, he stayed in his studio and relied on synthesizing remembered images. He pieced together Cape Cod Evening (1939) from sketches and recollected impressions of the Truro vicinity—a nearby grove of locust trees, the doorway of a house miles away, figures done from imagination, dry grass growing outside his studio. In the painting, a man and woman seem separated by their own introspection. Hopper's "equivocal human figures engaged in uncertain relationships mark his paintings as modern" as strongly as his gas pumps and telephone poles, writes art historian Ellen E. Roberts in the current show's catalog.

      The notions of disconnection and inaccessiblity are most fully realized in Nighthawks (1942), Hopper's most famous painting. Like the Mona Lisa or Whistler's Mother or American Gothic, it has taken on a life of its own in popular culture, with its film-noir sensibility sparking scores of parodies. The figures, customers at a late-night eatery, flooded by an eerie greenish light, look like specimens preserved in a jar. Hopper has banished every superfluous detail: the huge plate-glass window is seamless, and there is no visible entrance to the restaurant. Like characters in a crime movie or existential novel, the figures seem trapped in a world that offers no escape.

      As Hopper aged, he found it increasingly difficult to work, and as his output decreased in the late 1940s, some critics labeled him as passé. But younger artists knew better. Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, George Segal, Roy Lichtenstein and Eric Fischl appropriated Hopper's world and made it their own. Eight decades after his most evocative canvases were painted, those silent spaces and uneasy encounters still touch us where we are most vulnerable. Edward Hopper, matchless at capturing the play of light, continues to cast a very long shadow.

      Avis Berman is the author of Edward Hopper's New York and the editor of My Love Affair with Modern Art: Behind the Scenes with a Legendary Curator by Katharine Kuh (2006).

      Moonlight Etchings of the Forgotten Artist who Taught Edward Hopper

      Martin Lewis died in obscurity in 1962 a retired art teacher who had found some success in his early career, but was largely forgotten after the Great Depression took away the demand for his craft, leaving Lewis to spend his last three decades teaching other people how to etch. History chose Edward Hopper, but Martin Lewis was his mentor.

      “After I took up my etching, my painting seemed to crystallise,” Hopper is quoted in his biography. It was Martin Lewis, an Australian emigré who had moved to New York in 1909, that helped Edward learn the basics of etching. The two became good friends on the artists circuit where eachothers’ work was presented to the public at various art clubs and small exhibitions.

      Lewis had taken up printmaking by 1915 and was using the etching press to produce prints which became widely admired and collected by the East coast elite. While making a name for themselves in New York City, Hopper asked his friend if he could study alongside him to learn his techniques, making Lewis his mentor for a brief while. As his student, Hopper learned the finer points of etching and both artists used the great American metropolis at night as their muse.

      Years later, when Hopper was preparing for a one-man show in Pittsburgh at the height of his career, he rejected the notion that Lewis’s work had influenced his own or that he had studied “under Lewis” as implied by the exhibit’s biographical essay. “Lewis is an old friend of mine,” he countered. “When I decided to etch, he, who had already done some, was glad to give me some tips, on the purely mechanical processes, grounding the plates, printing etc”. By this time, the two artists were no longer friends however. According to Edward’s wife Josephine, Lewis and his wife Lucille had given the Hoppers up, “quite understandably. It had been too much of a blow to have E.H so successful.”

      Nearly 50 years after his death, Lewis’s print, Shadow Dance (pictured above), sold for $50,400 at an auction in New York, setting a record price for the artist at auction. He had found a renewed, posthumous appreciation in the new millennium, whereas decades earlier, auction houses couldn’t sell off his prints at all and entire lots failed to reach their reserve price.

      Much of his work may yet to be discovered. In 1920s, he was supported and collected by numerous etching societies and museums, but so many works are now held privately, out of public view. We would love to see more, wouldn’t you?

      Prints for sale can be found on The Old Print Shop.

      Edward Hopper - History

      In comparison with the contemporary Dutch American painters, De Kooning and Mondrian, Hopper’s paintings are realistic, and immediately evoke a sense of identification, at least for many of us. Hopper’s work was initially focused on cityscapes, but later he ventured out in the countryside and produced a number of interesting pictures based on small town life.

      Hopper’s best and best-known painting is entitled, “Nighthawks”. The painting shows a few people sitting on counter stools at the counter of a diner style restaurant. It is obviously well after midnight based on the eerily dark and quiet street. The diner is brightly lit and stands apart from the quiet but dark street, from where the artist viewed the people in the diner. Although, to this author, some of his other paintings are also outstanding, the “Nighthawks” painting is viewed as Hopper’s best and best known.

      Edward Hopper was raised in early Dutch Hudson River country. He was born in the small Hudson River town of Nyack, New York. It is reported that his ancestors were of English, Dutch and Welsh backgrounds. Hopper showed an aptitude for art early in his life, and told his parents that he wanted to become an artist, and wanted to attend an art institute. His parents being practical, and probably realistic, urged him to learn illustration, so that he at least would be able to support himself and his family, after he grew up. Following high school, he enrolled at the Corresponding School of Illustrating in New York City. Although it was apparently a correspondence school, Hopper attended the school in person, commuting daily from Nyack to the school in New York City by train.

      After spending one year at the Illustration School, he switched to the New York School of Art, also referred to as the Chase School, because the school was founded by William Merritt Chase [1849-1916], a reasonably well known American artist. While at the school, Hopper worked with Robert Henri [1869-1929], and it was Henri who gave direction to Hopper’s development as an artist. Hopper’s contemporaries at the School were such later luminaries as George Bellows and Rockwell Kent. Hopper remained at the School for several years, supporting himself with teaching, and working as an illustrator. While at the school he also learned much from his teachers and contemporaries. Along the way he even managed to travel to Europe several times to view the artistic developments, then going on in Europe, and notably in Paris. Although he admired what the impressionists were doing, he was not sufficiently impressed to follow their style of painting. He started out as a realist, and remained a realist, as an artist, for the remainder of his life.

      It was not until 1913, when he was 31 years old, that Hopper exhibited at the Armory Show, and sold his first painting. Even after that first success, Hopper’s work did not gain acceptance by the critics and art buyers until 10 years later. In 1923, at age 41, Hopper sold his second painting, a watercolor, painted with a medium that he had switched to then. The title of that work was “The Mansard Roof”. In the following year Hopper exhibited a group of watercolors at a New York City gallery, and every painting he exhibited was sold. A subsequent gallery exhibit, this time a solo exhibit at the Rehn Gallery in New York City, also sold out. This was the time Hopper clearly had arrived as a painter, and as an artist.

      In 1924, with his reputation as a painter solidly established, he settled in Greenwich Village, where he remained for the rest of his life, as a full time and well-established painter. In 1925, he renewed his friendship with a former student from the Art Institute. Her name was Jo Nevison. They got married the same year, in 1925, when Nevison was 40 and Hopper was 42 years old.

      In 1925, Hopper painted what is also considered one of his major pictures, entitled, “The House by the Railroad”. In 1929, Hopper was included in a major exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The exhibition was named, “Paintings by Nineteen Living Americans”. The following year, in 1930, Hopper’s, “The House by the Railroad” entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Also in 1930, the Whitney Museum of American Art purchased Hopper’s painting entitled, “Early Sunday Morning”. In 1933, Hopper was given a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and it 1950, the Whitney Museum of American Art gave Hopper a more extensive retrospective exhibition.

      Based on the above, Hopper clearly had become one of the major American graphic artists of the twentieth century. His life can best be described by the following quote from Lloyd Goodrich, shown in the paragraph below.

      “No artist has painted a more revealing portrait of twentieth century America. But he was not merely an objective realist. His art was charged with strong personal emotion, with a deep attachment to our familiar everyday world, in all its ugliness, banality, and beauty”.

      Edward Hopper was born in Nyack, New York, on July 22, 1882. He married Jo Nevison in 1925. So far as is known the couple had no children. Hopper passed away in New York City on May 15, 1967, at the age of 84 years. He bequeathed his art remaining in his possession to the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City, upon his death.





      Edward Hopper

      Realist painter who studied with Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller at the New York School of Art. One of the country’s most honored artists, Hopper was internationally acclaimed in his lifetime and was elected to both the National Institute of Arts and Letters ( 1945 ) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters ( 1955 ). He poetically painted the isolation and detachment of modern life Nighthawks ( 1942 ) is arguably his best-known composition.

      Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995 )

      A quintessential American realist, Hopper painted a repertoire of subjects ranging from the lighthouses and Victorian manses of the New England coast to the movie houses, offices, cafeterias, and highways of New York City. Hopper was associated with the Ash Can artists early in his career he studied with Robert Henri at the New York School of Art from 1900 to 1906 and greatly admired John Sloan’s etchings of New York City. In the 1920 s he achieved recognition with his architectural paintings in which light is used dramatically to characterize his subjects. Whether depicting daylight scenes or nocturnal environments, his paintings have an introspective, contemplative aura that is enhanced by his frequent use of solitary figures set against blank walls. Mood was as important to Hopper as subject, as the statement he wrote for the catalogue of his 1933 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art makes clear: ​ “ My aim in painting has always been the most exact transcription possible of my most intimate impressions of nature.”

      Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987 )

      Edward Hopper started his career as an illustrator, but soon switched to painting and studied with the artist Robert Henri at the New York School of Art. He made three trips to Paris between 1906 and 1910 , where he stayed with a French family and painted scenes of the city. Back in the United States , he resumed his commercial work, creating engravings and illustrations of everyday American life. These proved such a success that he was encouraged to return to easel painting, and by 1927 he had established himself with an exhibition in New York City . Hopper painted characteristic American subjects, from movie theaters and restaurants to New England lighthouses. His images capture dramatic areas of light and shadow and often evoke a strong sense of isolation and loneliness, even when there is more than one figure portrayed.

      Edward Hopper: The Watercolors

      In the 1920s, inspired perhaps by the particular light and quality of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Edward Hopper began painting watercolors. He has been celebrated since then as one of the most eloquent of America’s realists.

      Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection

      In eighty-eight striking paintings and sculptures, Crosscurrents captures modernism as it moved from early abstractions by O’Keeffe, to Picasso and Pollock in midcentury, to pop riffs on contemporary culture by Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, and Tom Wesselmann—all illustrating the com

      Graphic Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

      Graphic Masters celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists’ works on paper.

      About the Author Amanda Hadley

      Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.

      About Our Authors

      Our authors are a diverse mix of people from around the world. Some of us are practicing artists, while others may be art historians or interior designers. Whether you want tips and tricks for refining your own space or enjoy reading true stories from the lives of the masters, it's our mission to create content you'll love.

      Edward Hopper - Biography and Legacy

      Edward Hopper was born into a comfortable, middle-class family in Nyack, New York, in 1882. His parents introduced Edward, and his older sister Marion, to the arts early in life they attended the theatre, concerts and other cultural events, and visited museums. His father owned a dry goods store where Hopper sometimes worked as a teen. Hopper described him as "an incipient intellectual. less at home with his books of accounts than with Montaigne's essays." Both his parents were supportive of his artistic inclinations.

      As a boy, Hopper was quiet and reserved. He was over six feet tall by his early teens, had few friends, and spent much of his time alone with his books and art. His home in Nyack stood on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, just north of New York City. At the time Nyack was a vibrant hub of transit and industry. There was an active train station, three shipbuilding companies, a port for steamboats, and the cross-Hudson ferry. Young Edward spent his days by the river, sketchpad in hand, observing and drawing the rigging and building of boats. This early period is documented in numerous drawings of boats and ships as well as several handmade wooden model boats. As a teen he built a full-sized catboat and briefly considered pursuing a career in naval architecture. The seriousness with which the artist approached his artistic ambitions had already revealed itself by age 10 when he began to sign and date his drawings.

      Early Period

      After graduating high school in 1899, Hopper's parents encouraged him to study commercial illustration instead of fine art. Accordingly, he spent a year at the New York School of Illustration in Manhattan before transferring to the more serious New York School of Art to realize his dream. His teachers there included the American Impressionist William Merritt Chase (who founded the school) and Robert Henri, a leading figure of the Ashcan school, whose proponents advocated depicting the grittier side of urban life. Hopper's classmates at the school included George Bellows, Guy Pene du Bois, and Rockwell Kent.

      In 1905, Hopper began working as an illustrator for a New York City advertising agency but never really liked illustrating and longed for the freedom to paint from his imagination. Unfortunately, success was slow in coming and he was forced to earn his living as an illustrator for nearly 20 more years until his painting career took off.

      Hopper travelled to Europe three times between 1906 and 1910, enjoying two extended stays in Paris. The influence of the Impressionists led him to the streets to draw and paint en plein air, or, as Hopper described it, "from the fact." Years later he would call his work from this period, a form of "modified impressionism." He was especially attracted to Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas's unusual compositional arrangements in their depictions of modern urban life. During a visit to Amsterdam, Hopper also admired Rembrandt's Nightwatch, which called "the most wonderful thing of his I have seen, it's past belief in its reality - it almost amounts to deception."

      After returning from his final trip abroad in 1910, Hopper moved permanently to New York City and, in 1913, settled at 3 Washington Square North. This would be his home and studio for the rest of his life. That same year he sold his first painting, Sailing (1911), for $250 at the Armory show in New York. Though he never stopped painting, it would be 11 years before he sold another painting. During that time he continued to earn his living illustrating and, in 1915, he took up printmaking, producing some 70 etchings and dry points over the next decade. Like the paintings for which he would later become renowned, Hopper's etchings embody a sense alienation and melancholy. One of his better known etchings, Night Shadows (1921) features the birds'-eye viewpoint, the dramatic use of light and shadow, and the air of mystery which would serve as inspiration for many film noir movies of the 1940s. Hopper continued to receive great acclaim for his etchings over the years and considered them an essential part of his artistic development. As he wrote, "After I took up etching, my painting seemed to crystallize."

      Mature Period

      In 1923, Hopper visited Gloucester, Massachusetts. There he became reacquainted with Josephine (Jo) Nivison, whom he had met years earlier as an art student of Robert Henri. He worked in watercolor that summer and it was Jo who encouraged him later that year to join her in participating in a show at the Brooklyn Museum. He exhibited six watercolors there, including The Mansard Roof (1923), which the museum purchased for $100.

      In 1924, Hopper married Jo. From that time on she became his primary model and most ardent supporter. In that same year he had a solo exhibition of watercolors at the Frank K. M. Rehn Gallery in New York. The show sold out and the Rehn Gallery continued to represent him for the rest of his life. This success enabled Hopper to finally give up illustrating.

      Over the next several years, Hopper's painting style matured and his signature iconography emerged--from isolated figures in public or private interiors, to sun-soaked architecture, silent streets, and coastal scenes with lighthouses. In 1930, House by the Railroad (1925) became the first painting accessioned to the permanent collection of the newly founded Museum of Modern Art. The early 1930s were, indeed, a period of great success for Hopper, with sales to major museums and in 1933, a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.

      Despite his commercial success, Hopper and Jo lived a frugal lifestyle, only allowing themselves the indulgence of attending theatre and films. Hopper particularly loved going to movies. His first documented visit to one was in Paris in 1909. As he explained, "When I don't feel in the mood for painting, I go to the movies for a week or more. I go on a regular movie binge."

      Early in their marriage the Hoppers spent summers painting in New England, mostly Gloucester and coastal Maine. They also travelled across the country and to Mexico, where they painted watercolors side by side. From 1934, they began spending summers at the house and studio Hopper designed for them in South Truro, Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

      Late Period

      Hopper continued to be productive during the war years and remained unperturbed by the potential threats following the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was precisely during this period that he worked on his most well known painting, Nighthawks (1942). Through the 1950s and early 1960s, Hopper continued to see acclaim and success, despite the arrival of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and Minimalism to the New York art scene. The universal appeal of his subjects continued to find an avid audience.

      Hopper was not a prolific painter. He often found it hard to settle on a subject to paint and then spent a great deal of time working out the details of the composition through numerous studies. By the end of his life he averaged just two oils a year. Hopper died on May 15, 1967 and Jo Hopper died just 10 months later, bequeathing their artistic estate to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Hopper is buried, along with Jo, his sister and his parents, in Nyack's Oak Hill Cemetery.

      The Legacy of Edward Hopper

      Hopper has inspired countless painters, photographers, filmmakers, set designers, dancers, writers, and musicians and the term "Hopperesque" is now widely used to connote images reminiscent of Hopper's moods and subjects. In the visual arts, Hopper's influence has touched artists in a range of media including Mark Rothko, George Segal, Banksy, Ed Ruscha, and Tony Oursler . The painter Eric Fischl remarked, "You can tell how great an artist is by how long it takes you to get through his territory. I'm still in the territory that he opened up." Richard Diebenkorn recalled the importance of Hopper's influence on his work when he was a student stating, "I embraced Hopper completely . It was his use of light and shade and the atmosphere . kind of drenched, saturated with mood, and its kind of austerity . It was the kind of work that just seemed made for me. I looked at it and it was mine." In the exhibition and catalogue, Edward Hopper & Company: Hopper's Influence on Photography (2009), Jeffrey Fraenkel examines how Edward Hopper inspired a whole school of photographers including Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Harry Callahan, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, and Stephen Shore. Fraenkel writes, "More than almost any American artist, Hopper has had a pervasive impact on the way we see the world--so pervasive as to be almost invisible."

      Hopper has had no less of an impact on cinema. Generations of filmmakers have drawn inspiration from Hopper's dramatic viewpoints, lighting, and overall moods, among them, Sam Mendes, David Lynch, Robert Siodmak, Orson Welles, Wim Wenders, and Billy Wilder. His painting, House by the Railroad (1925) inspired Alfred Hitchcock's house in Psycho (1960) as well as that in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978).

      Hopper's open-ended narratives have also appealed to writers and musicians. Tom Waits titled an album Nighthawks at the Diner and Madonna named a concert tour after the painting Girlie Show (1941). Joyce Carol Oates refers directly to Hopper in her poem, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks 1942. Many others have created whole collections of stories or poems using Hopper paintings as starting points. Hopper's Nighthawks has been appropriated and used hundreds of times in all forms of media within popular culture. An image of the painting or a facsimile of it can be found in an episode of the Simpsons, as the backdrop for a Peeps marshmallows ad, or featuring Marilyn Monroe and James Dean (in Gottfried Helnwein's Boulevard of Broken Dreams (1984)), morphed into a Starbucks, a space station, and in a variety of cartoons in The New Yorker.

      The artist and writer Victor Burgin properly summed up Hopper's pervasive impact when he said, "We need not look for Hopper in order to find him. We may encounter him by chance at random places where his world intersects our own. We might ask whether or not this photograph by the American documentary photographer Larry Sultan was taken with Edward Hopper's paintings consciously in mind. But the question is irrelevant. To know Hopper's work is to be predisposed to see the world in his terms, consciously or not."

      Watch the video: Nighthawks by Edward Hopper: Great Art Explained (January 2022).