A 1927 painting that captures the “rapid modernization” of Greenwich Village

If you’re an Edward Hopper fan, then you’re used to seeing his many paintings depicting the backyards, rooftops, and streets of Greenwich Village—especially around Washington Square, which Hopper could view out his studio window.

But his 1927 painting, titled simply “The City,” doesn’t look like Washington Square. It’s more of a mash-up of New York City building styles, from fanciful Second Empire residences to the monotony of low-rise, walkup rows.

The Whitney Museum, which has “The City” in its collection, calls it a “creative representation” of Washington Square Park, one that includes “The Row, Hopper’s own block of brick-faced rowhouses along the northeast edge of the park,” the museum states.

“This composite nods to both existing and imagined structures of diverse architectural styles—including Federal, Gilded Age, and modern, as represented by the skyscraper, lopped off on the far right.”

“The City captures the rapid modernization of Greenwich Village during this period, emphasizing the ever-changing and frequently ad-hoc nature of New York’s built environment.”

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5 Responses to “A 1927 painting that captures the “rapid modernization” of Greenwich Village”

  1. Shayne Davidson Says:

    Love this Hopper painting! I’ve never seen it before!

  2. velovixen Says:

    Shayne and Ephemeral–I feel the same way.

    I am not a painter. That said, I imagine that if one wanted to convey a sense of change–particularly the negative as well as the positive energy of it–in a city, one couldn’t do it through strict representation. It would, I think, have to be a mashup or composite like Hopper did in this painting–or through an abstraction of shapes and colors, as Mondrian did.

  3. AJ Schenkman Says:

    I love Hopper and his paintings. Thank you for posting this. I found it so interesting.

  4. Tim York Says:

    Thank you for this entry. I am a true Hopper fan.

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