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Self Portrait


Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper is one of h...
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Per the request of a reader, the following is a re-post from 2010. I stand by my opinion and welcome your comments.

Dearest Phorest,

Regarding Hopper; he does sound like you. He sounds like me also. You are probably most familiar with his painting, Nighthawks (pictured above), the famous “Diner” painting. What I find so interesting about the “Diner” painting is the fact that nobody really gets it. If you do some research, most people have become obsessed with the question of the diner’s existence or non-existence (as the case may be). These people call themselves scholars of art and yet for decades they have totally misunderstood this piece. Some arguments suggest that this painting depicts a diner in Greenwich. In fact, some writer from the Art Institute of Chicago wrote that Hopper himself stated that the painting was a depiction of a diner that sat where two streets met at Greenwich Avenue. The writer was careful to remain anonymous. The piece was also interpreted as depicting a sense of urban isolation. These two arguments have gone on forever which suggest to me that most of these so-called art critics don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. I don’t believe Hopper ever suggested that the diner was anything but a backdrop to what his painting was really about.

Because you cleverly wrote that Hopper reminds you of you, I can tell you get him as I get him and as he intended. Nighthawks is not about a diner, or about the city, or even about the people there. The piece is clearly about Hopper himself. In 1947 he wrote that he wasn’t looking to depict anything; he was looking to find him. Scott Simmons of NPR actually wrote, “Nighthawks begs you to tell a story.” Really? Couldn’t it be argued that the whole story has been told by the completion of the painting? My favorite piece, in case you haven’t noticed, is Sun in an Empty Room. To me it represents an acceptance of self, a hopefulness, and beauty. Doesn’t that sound like me? I think it may be worth a few minutes of your day to look at some of Hopper’s paintings. You’ll totally see that every single painting is a self-portrait. Be careful; you may become obsessed with him as I did. I do find humor in the fact that so many so-called art enthusiasts spend so much time searching for the “true meaning” in his works. It would probably solve all their problems if they just read his wife’s diaries. Josephine wrote everything down and although he was very introverted, he loved her. She was his only other muse besides himself. Sorry, “diner” people. Move it along; there’s nothing to see here!

 

PS: Hopper Died just short of your birthday (May 1967).  You may well be him!

 

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