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Found Language #002: On Edward Hopper

2010 07 22 Found Language 002

“Many writers and poets have tried to interpret Hopper’s themes as stories. Take Nighthawks, for example. Joyce Carol Oates composed interior monologues for the couple sitting in the fish-bowl brightness. Erik Jendresen, author of the film, Band of Brothers, wrote a short story inspired by the painting. The German poet, Wolf Wondratschek, imagined that the Nighthawks’ couple had grown apart:

I bet she wrote him a letter
Whatever it said, he’s no longer the man
Who’d read her letters twice.

His late-night diners, anonymous lobbies, lonely petrol stations and empty streets are visual literature. “If you could say it in words,” Hopper once said, “there would be no reason to paint.” I, for one, am glad he was such a mysterious, prolific artist, allowing us to stand before his canvases to ponder his elliptical meanings for ourselves. — Edward Hopper by Anne Aylor

“Silence is ubiquitous in his paintings even when there are many people present…You always feel that Hopper is on the verge of saying something, but he hardly does.”

“John Updike observes, “we are always eavesdropping on that wonderful Hopper silence.””

“Hopper’s quiet canvases are well appreciated in these times of constant chatter and chaos; I wonder how he would have painted a rose…”

Meeting Edward Hopper, the quiet American in Lausanne by Michele Roohani


Sun in an Empty Room by Edward Hopper (1963)

“How do you know what an empty room looks like,” asked Hopper in reference to Sun in an Empty Room, “if no one’s there?” — Listening to Edward Hopper’s Silence by Annelisa Stephan


Maybe I am not very human – what I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.
— Edward Hopper

“Poet Mark Strand, in his beautifully observant 1994 study ‘Hopper,’ calls ‘Sun’ ‘Hopper’s last great painting, a vision of the world without us; not merely a place that excludes us but a place emptied of us.’ There’s no questioning the man’s radical solitariness, which one would simply call misanthropy if his work didn’t speak so eloquently of the tender and ineffable mysteries of the human condition.”

“Hopper’s life was one long philosophical malaise. Levin, plain-spoken in her well-considered insights, has a sharp ear for prescient lines on her subject and quotes critic Jacob Getlar Smith’s singling out of what he saw in Hopper’s work as ‘a somberness, a realization that existence is serious and at times desolate–that despite rigid demands, out of every day percolates a radiancy, the haunting spell of life itself.’”

That Strange, Sad Light by Fred Schruers

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