Nighthawk

April 10, 2010

I chose “Nighthawk” by Edward Hopper.  I have always liked this painting and chose it even though I can only minimally relate it to the themes of the assignment.   Edward Hopper does not quite fit into the general period of the Avant Garde and Abstraction, but what I call the counter-abstract movement and is closer to American regionalism.  

Edward Hopper had made comments on this painting as being themed about predation (which fits the title) but this work is often been viewed with loneliness.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Hopper  I do not view the solitary man at the counter as threatening, nor the individual whose perspective the painting is from.  Maybe there should be some eerie background music.  I worked nights for several years and this painting reminds me of the silence and emptiness of a city at night.   The painting is from 1942 so has closer ties to the end of the depression and the start of WWII than probably any other influences.  This painting is clearly in a place before the war.  I make this statement because there would have been two distinctions of mid war America. One is the droves of night shift factory workers. War manufacturing never shuts down and factories were kept open 24/7 by War’s end to keep up with demand. Therefore there would be tons of services such as diners for war workers. Two, is the lack of blackout curtains.  Even the Plains States had blackout and light regulations.   I think the artist himself is somewhat influenced by the depression.  Hopper painted calm, easy going American and apple pie themes.  I think these themes were popular because people longed for the pre-crash times when they could go to a diner. I think people found comfort in images that matched their perception of better times.

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One Response to “Nighthawk”

  1. AJ Says:

    Perhaps I am reading to much into the painting and drawing meanings out of thin air, but it seems to me that the couple in the dinner is actually quite happy. because the atmosphere seems so warm inside and the dark colors convey a dark feeling, it seems to me that the artist is showing a safe haven from the perils outside. It wouldn’t be a far leap to relate that to the war, with the bartender representing the government looking out for its patrons. Then again, maybe it is just as simple as a couple in a diner 🙂

    All in all i think you nailed everything required for the assignment, with the possible exception of italicizing the name of the piece.

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