edward hopper's new york

THE whitney museum, 2023

Edward Hopper is undoubtedly one of the great American artists of the 20th century. There’s something about his work that is hauntingly personal, even as it peers into life from a 3rd person perspective. Realism hits different when you see your own life in the paintings from a century ago. Scenes of a city that has persisted through wars, through tragedies, through pandemics. And the people meandering its streets, occupying its buildings, calling it home. 

During the pandemic, the paintings felt even more relevant, relatable. People in their homes staring out into the world, and perspectives of outsiders peering in. Windows, light, a sense of quiet, peaceful scenes in an often chaotic city, a city that, for many months in 2020, was as quiet as these paintings. Haunting, lonely, distanced from the outside. 

The Whitney Museum’s exhibition was extremely popular on a brisk winter Monday, filled with city dwelling art lovers, perusing the paintings, the perspectives on the city we call home. Pointing out the places we know, the streets and bridges that are a part of the contemporary quotidian, like looking back in time on a day that could be any day of life.

artist sketches

visions, scenes, renderings, bits and pieces drawn in, tempts even amateurs to have a go at romanticizing their city scenes in sketchbooks

my new york // inspired perspectives

And through it, inspiring different perspectives of looking at the city. Street scenes, architectural geometry, well composed storefronts, bits and pieces of the city that could easily be overlooked but from the right perspective, with the right light, something artful enough to be worth capturing. 

New York City is any artist’s wonderland. It’s shapes and shadows, the bustle of city life and the sacred tranquility of an early Sunday morning stroll. The buildings and streets are the muse of many, and in them I can see reflected visions that Hopper may have seen in his time. It’s strange to think he walked the same streets, to see the bridge that feels all too familiar and close in a painting from bygone era. I wonder how he’d capture today’s New York. One overridden by glossy new developments and ostentatious commercialism. I wonder if he’d leave out the loud signs just as I try to crop out the trash on the streets. It’s nice to be able to paint a vision without clutter. 

thank you, edward hopper, for sharing with us your new york

see also

nyc guide | the whitney museum

in america, an anthology of fashion