Edward Hopper: “Nighthawks”
Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” is a painting that was done in the year 1942. Hopper was famous for his oil paintings but was also good as a water colorist. “Nighthawks” is considered as one of his famous works as well as the most recognized in America. Hopper began painting it after the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese that occurred on December 7 1941. There was a feeling of gloominess all over the country, which is clearly expressed in the artwork. It portrays people sited at a diner late at night. There are four people: two are a couple, the other sitted showing his back to the viewer is alone and the diner attendant. In the painting the street right outside the diner is empty and the people inside seem lonely and lost in their thoughts. Edward Hopper’s artwork is clearly figurative. He uses the term “Nighthawk” to portray someone who stays up late. The scene was inspired by a diner in Greenwich Village; his home neighborhood in Manhattan. The painting pays attention to the interior and human placement in accurate balance with the environment. The use of geometrical shapes, lines, texture and vibrant colors have made the masterpiece truly remarkable.
Lines in the painting are clearly shown, the light from the diner reflects onto the next building diagonally. The frames joining the diner mirrors are straight. The posts placed at the entrance of the other building are parallel. The corner of the diner and the edge of the roof is composed of a curve line. The stools are arranged in a line parallel to the triangle counter. The lines are correctly drawn as per the object described. However, it is the job of the architect to decide and communicate which attributes need to be emphasized in order to achieve the overarching mission of a solution.
Several shapes are highlighted. They compose of circles, triangles and rectangles. The corner of the diner is curved: curved glass connecting the large stretch to the two sides. The stools inside the diner are round in shape. Again taking a closer look at the painting, there is no visible door to the diner detecting imprisonment. The counter also takes the shape of a triangle trapping the attendants within the counter area. Rectangles are used; the windows and doors of the nearby building are box in shape. The image placed on the counter of the building adjacent to the diner has an organic shape. The metallic vessels at the far end of the dinner have a cylindrical shape. Urban architecture was a major aspect in his work; he was fascinated by the American urban scene full of hideous beauty, fascinating roofs and delicate harmonies of fainted paint.
The effective use of light and shadow to create mood is also highlighted. The diners harsh light separates it from the dark night enhancing subtle emotion and mood. The light hides nothing, it reflects even onto the buildings across the streets. Part of the window overlaps the glass of the buildings on the left. Inside, the light reflects onto the metal tanks placed at the far right side of the diner, this brightens the scene and adds mood to the painting. His use of color has been compared to the cinematography of a few films. As he said “the vertical and diagonal bands of color and sharp electrical shadows create concise and intense drama in the night…Combining subject matter with a powerful arrangement, the composition is pure enough to approach an almost conceptual sensibility, yet layered with a poetic meaning for the observer.” The viewpoint is cinematic as if the viewer were approaching the restaurant.
Texture is the feel of the canvas. “Nighthawks” has a simulated texture because it appears real. The circular shaped diner and the triangle shaped counter have a simulated texture. The whole painting comes into sight as simulated; it looks as if it is a photograph. The people give the impression of being real and the location seems authentic. The feel of the drawing is smooth. The texture has not been added an artificial material but is portrayed as real. . The painter portrayed the modern urban life as empty, denying that he deliberate wanted to express it as such.
The diner interior is brilliant, made of brown cherry wood counters surrounded with stools expressing simplicity. At the base of the seamless glass, brilliant streaks of jade green tiles are placed three-quarter way. The color of the tiles is dull creating a boring mood in the restaurant. The counter fronts have no merchandise in them intensifying the general seediness of the scene. The color of the building across is brown. Edward’s “Nighthawks” work of art contrasts the sleek modern diner whose glass windows appear seamless and transparent with the 19th century brick building beside the restaurant. The walls of the diner have a bright cream color that brightens the entire room, creating a warmer feel; in addition to the cream color is the yellow color also adding life to the artwork.
Human placement, There are four people in the diner; none seems vivacious, even the couple do not seem to communicate. Loneliness is clearly highlighted in the artwork though the counterman seems to be having a few words with the man facing him. The man showing us his back is sitted at the far end alone and lonely, he seems trapped in the triangle shaped counter. Again, there are large sitting spaces that are unoccupied. The items viewed in the diner- the coffee mugs, the saltshakers and napkin holders are poignant symbols of separation, they are placed at different locations. Secondly, there are no other customers even the passers by; no one is walking on the streets. Inside the diner, the temperature is understood as warm because no coats are evident; the woman is in a short-sleeved blouse. The storey across the street appears to have open windows. The people are also geometrically represented just like the architecture drawn in the painting.
. Hopper’s works clearly lacked the urban aspect; there was no presence of cars, passersby and other artifacts. The restaurant could have been any ordinary one; it was simply painted, it did not have an exception. The painter was most interested in letting the architectural concept convey his impressions. His desire to exteriorize his real nature was stronger than his personal control thus; he painted “Nighthawks” to express his loneliness. Edward Hopper was and still is a recognized painter worldwide. Many artists take after him; they have produced works that are similar to his, from films like “Pennies from Heaven” and the “End of Violence”. Paintings have also been produced. It has been widely referenced in the popular culture. Versions of the painting have appeared on t-shirts, greeting cards, on posters, advertisements and on comic books. Paintings are a form of communication; they convey messages that cannot be spoken. Edward Hopper’s painting was truly remarkable.
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