Night Windows
May 25, 2004 10:15 AM   Subscribe

"Time passes, or rather doesn't pass. It is just there, solid as a coffee mug on the diner's counter. Time hangs like the reek of old tobacco in the hotel furniture". We all think we know Edward Hopper's images, even if we've never seen his paintings. Somehow the solidity of the world -- even the sky is like a wall -- is at odds with the transience of the people in it, however long they sit and stand and wait. Hopper's people, like Manet's figures, often appear consumed by the irreducible business of being. Hopper, too, would descend into his own silences, would delay himself in self-doubt... (more inside)
posted by matteo (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
...would delay himself in self-doubt for long periods. He was no stranger to the states his paintings depict. What he was painting, he said, was "me".
"When we were at school," Hopper once remembered, "We debated what a room looked like when there was no one to see it, nobody looking in, even."
posted by matteo at 10:20 AM on May 25, 2004

Continental philosophy on canvas. Great post.
posted by snarfodox at 10:32 AM on May 25, 2004

Hopper is great. Whoever came up with that "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" bastardization needs a couple of hard pipe-hitting bruthas to go work on him with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch.

Good post, too bad some of images are so pixelated.
posted by keswick at 10:33 AM on May 25, 2004

I had a peek years ago at a few of that guy's [paintings and the people all looked pissed cause didn't get fresh coffee or food fast enough...what that other stuff is you mention is beyond me.
posted by Postroad at 10:44 AM on May 25, 2004

as mentioned in a few of the above-linked stories, those who are interested in Hopper's work and will visit London this summer should visit the Tate Modern exhibit, 27 May - 5 September 2004
posted by matteo at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2004

Early Sunday Morning is one of my favorite paintings, but I can't really say why.

Great post!
posted by dragstroke at 10:53 AM on May 25, 2004

Great post.
I figure the difference between mediocre art and great art is it's ability to say something nuanced with economy and style. Nighthawks is always my goto example of this.
posted by dong_resin at 11:23 AM on May 25, 2004

Yet another great post from Matteo. Damn!
posted by shoepal at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2004

What a fabulous post. Thank you so much. The perfect introduction before going to see the exhibition at the Tate Modern.
posted by pixeldiva at 11:39 AM on May 25, 2004

Wonderful post, Matteo. Thanks!
posted by scody at 12:00 PM on May 25, 2004

Fantastic post, very well chosen images. I wish I were going to be in London for the Tate show.
posted by languagehat at 12:17 PM on May 25, 2004

One of my favorite artists. Good post.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:29 PM on May 25, 2004

you're on a roll this week, matteo! keep it up.
posted by mr.marx at 1:43 PM on May 25, 2004

Excellent thank you!
posted by vacapinta at 2:41 PM on May 25, 2004

Hopper's paintings are among my favorites in the world. I was lucky enough to see most of the well-known ones at the Whitney several years back. It is worth seeing them, if only to remember that the posters and prints are not the same.

As an aside, I always thought it was strange that people in the 'art world' would generally look down at me if I mentioned him as one of my favorite painters. I never got the same sort of reaction mentioning Francis Bacon, (another of my favorites).

dragstroke: Me, too. I always though it was because it reminded me of walking in the East Village before everyone was up.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:01 PM on May 25, 2004

Nighthawks is one of 'those' paintings, that looks innocuous at first, but sticks with you. I'm still not sure why, but I'm glad I know who painted it now, and what it's called.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:29 PM on May 25, 2004

Back when I lived in poverty I saved up to buy a print of Nighthawks which I ended up tacking to my wall, since I could afford a frame. For years it was the only art I owned.

[this is good]
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:17 PM on May 25, 2004

Great post.

One of my favorite Hopper paintings (and one I don't think gets anywhere near the respect it deserves) is 1940's "Gas." Still trees, an empty road, a silent nightfall. You can almost hear the future looming.
posted by mrbula at 7:02 PM on May 25, 2004

for archival purposes:

great story in today's Le Figaro:

Edward Hopper, l'angoisse silencieuse

Les oeuvres d'Edward Hopper semblent s'y sentir bien. Et le vi siteur également, qui pourra, un peu perdu, trouver sa consolation : la confrontation avec une subjectivité, une intimité et une douceur, parfois un désespoir schubertien, qui, sans hystérie, sans discours et sans pathos, donne à voir une vérité intérieure, douloureuse, banale. Bouleversante.

Ces instantanés mettent en scène des humains qui sont nos frères, malgré leur apparente abstraction. Mais il y a ici des vrais personnages : figés dans une modestie et une neutralité stupéfaite, résignés souvent à ce que Simenon, autre obsessionnel lucide, appelait une «froide sérénité» dans un roman de 1944 dont le titre, La Fuite de monsieur Monde, pourrait servir d'épigraphe à cette rétrospective fragmentaire. Mais on sait que le fragment peut représenter la totalité d'un univers.

Et Hopper, c'est un univers. Un monde circonscrit mais inépuisable. Hopper est un classique. Les posters de ses oeuvres célèbres – des toiles cultes comme Nightwaks (1942) – ont tapissé, on n'ose pas dire égayé, des chambres d'étudiants sensibles et mélancoliques qui punaisaient aussi les portraits du Che. C'est la rançon de la gloire, une postérité peut-être superficielle car le trait, les couleurs, la thématique sont immédiatement séduisants. Un malentendu, qu'importe.

posted by matteo at 3:46 PM on June 8, 2004

« Older Bush campaign outsources campaign to India   |   Exit Strategy Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments