I’d like to introduce you to one of my favourite artists, and arguably one America’s greatest artists of the 20th century – Edward Hopper. His work has been a massive inspiration to me and scores of other artists. The work can be deceptively simple at times as it is more about mood and feeling than you might realize. The way he uses people and light in his paintings is completely enchanting to me, has for years been a major inspiration to me. If you’ve not heard of him though, I can guarantee you’ve probably seen his work in one form or another as it is often referenced and seen. Here’s what you need to know before you jump off and find out more about this great artist.
Edward Hopper was a prominent American painter of the 20th century, known for his realistic depictions of urban and coastal landscapes and his ability to convey emotions through light and composition. He was born in 1882 in Nyack, New York, and began his artistic career as a commercial illustrator before studying at the New York School of Art. Hopper also spent time in Europe, where he picked up some tips and tricks from the impressionist painters, who were still fresh and new at the time he was there. The exposure to these artists and ideas would inspire his own work and style.
Hopper’s paintings often depict anonymous figures in empty spaces and convey a sense of loneliness and isolation, but also a sense of longing and nostalgia. He was particularly known for his portrayals of the American landscape, particularly in urban and coastal settings. One of his most famous works is “Nighthawks” (1942), which depicts a group of people sitting in a brightly lit urban diner late at night. The painting is considered a masterpiece of American art and is widely recognized as Hopper’s most iconic work. I’m sure you’d recognise it even if you didn’t know the artist behind it!
Another well-known Hopper painting is “House by the Railroad” (1925) which depicts a lone clapboard house, brilliant white in the sunlight. A railroad track crosses picture creating a sense of isolation and separation for the house. This painting is known for its compositional simplicity and use of light and shadow to create a sense of depth and atmosphere. This painting inspired a number of references in films and books, most notably as the inspiration for the House in Psycho and as the house of The Addams Family.
Hopper’s work has had a significant influence on popular culture, his paintings have been referenced in films, television shows, music, and video games. Some examples are, the movie Psycho (1960) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, which was heavily influenced by Hopper’s “House by the Railroad”, and in the TV series Breaking Bad, the scene when Walt and Skyler sit in the booth of a diner, it’s an homage to Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and many more references in various media.
Edward Hopper died in New York City in 1967, but his work continues to be widely admired and has had a significant influence on contemporary art. He’s widely considered one of the most important American painters of the 20th century. His paintings remind us of the emotions, atmosphere and the sense of longing and isolation of the America during the early 20th century, and still resonates with people to this day.
- Edward Hopper at Wikipedia
- Edward Hopper and his paintings
- On the Relationship Between Edward Hopper’s Paintings and Cinema