Posts Tagged ‘Edward Hopper Greenwich Village’

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

May 1, 2023

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.”

‘Inertia and desolation’ of Sunday in New York in the 1920s

July 5, 2021

Like so many paintings by Edward Hopper, “Sunday,” completed in 1926, is shrouded in mystery. Who is this lone man sitting on the curb, and what’s the significance of the row of empty storefronts he’s turned his back on?

The scene may be ambiguous, but the sense of isolation and disconnection conjured by the image will feel familiar for New Yorkers in the 1920s and the 2020s as well.

“Sunday depicts a spare street scene,” explains the Phillips Collection, which owns the painting. “In the foreground, a solitary, middle-aged man sits on a sunlit curb, smoking a cigar. Behind him is a row of old wooden buildings, their darkened and shaded windows suggesting stores, perhaps closed for the weekend or permanently.”

Though it’s impossible to know, this scene might be in Greenwich Village, near where Hopper lived and painted for most of his life on the Washington Square North.

“Oblivious to the viewer’s gaze, the man seems remote and passive,” the Phillips Collection continues. “His relationship to the nearby buildings is uncertain. Who is he? Is he waiting for the stores to open? When will that occur? Sunlight plays across the forms, but curiously, it lacks warmth. Devoid of energy and drama, Sunday is ambiguous in its story but potent in its impression of inertia and desolation.”

“Sunday” shouldn’t be confused with “Early Sunday Morning,” a better-known Hopper painting of a row of two-story buildings thought to be on Bleecker Street. That painting has a similar haunting, solitary feel. The same unbroken line of low-rises he depicts still exist today.