Realism and Attention to Detail in Edward Hopper's Night Hawks
In the following essay the painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper will be analyzed to determine what messages the artist was trying to convey to the viewer, and the significance of the very detailed depiction of the figures occupying the diner. The realism style of the painting that contributes greatly to the intense effect on the viewer, chosen for this reason, will be explored as well. The somber and lonely mood of the painting will be analyzed as well as the aspects of the empty street and the sparsely populated diner. I will discuss how the painting accurately represents the Great Depression era it was painted to portray, why this specific medium was chosen and how it affects the painting itself.
“There is a sort of elation about sunlight on the upper part of a house. ” Edward Hopper, a classic realist painter of the twentieth century, had a fascination for light. His plays on the mood of light stretch as a major theme throughout his works, and contribute to the intensifying effect he could inject into seemingly every day scenes. His works took a dramatic appeal through the “eerie stillness's” and lone figures sprinkled throughout his paintings. Although influenced by Edgar Degas and Edouard Maent, Edward Hopper easily added his own personal touches to the beautiful style of realism.1
Born in July of 1882 in New York, Hopper grew up interested in art and encouraged by his parents. After attending both the Correspondence School of Illustrating in New York City and the New York School of Art, Hopper experienced a shift in interest from illustrations to the fine arts1. While studying with the impressionist artist William Merritt Chase and the realistic painter Robert Henri, young Hopper traveled several times to Europe, especially France.
Edward Hopper's career took time to gain momentum, although he did have early success with his etchings. Focusing on oil paintings and some watercolor as he became increasingly independent, Edward steered away from the illustrations he had relied on in the earliest phases of his career, acquiring his first one person exhibition.1 During his second one person exhibition in New York all of his works sold; the success of his career was steadily increasing. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career occurred in 1952 when Hopper was asked to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale.1
In 1924 Edward Hopper married Josephine Nivison, whom he had studied art with under...