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August 9, 2007 / Tony

A wonderful piece on Edward Hopper


I ran across this piece about the artist Edward Hopper by Paul Greenberg today.  I wanted to post it because it is so well-written and instructive, especially to someone like me who knows nothing about art.  The picture above is named Nighthawks and is, I think, Mr. Hopper’s most famous piece.  (The image comes from andthe image can be found here.)  Let me just quote a few lines from the piece as I can’t say it any better than Mr. Greenberg does.

The exhibit is advertised as “Edward Hopper/the ordinary, made extraordinary.” But no one can make the ordinary, breathtaking beauty of life extraordinary; it already is. We need only be aware of it to have it break through the everydayness. But we couldn’t bear its light full-on.

That’s why we have artists like Edward Hopper: to let us re-see the power of the past without being blinded by it. They mediate for us, taming the world the way the passage of time does. . . .

It is not true that art must disturb; it can also reconcile. Hopper reconciles us to the solitude no one can escape. He does more than reconcile us to it; he savors it. He’s the loner’s artist. Looking through his windows into people’s solitary lives, we are alone together.

The solitude in these paintings and the appreciation of it . . . the emptiness of these scenes even and maybe especially when there are figures present in the frame . . . the colors muted as if they were pre-aged . . . .

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