Posts Tagged ‘Edward Hopper New York paintings’

The “fear and anxiety” of approaching the city

July 30, 2018

Edward Hopper painted “Approaching a City” in 1946, making it one of his later works.

But it’s no less effective in depicting the isolation and stasis of the modern city—which visitors reach by traveling on a train, something usually associated with excitement and adventure.

Not here. A potential threat lies ahead for travelers to this city (which is presumably New York, based on the tenements flanking the railroad tunnel).

When asked about the painting in 1959, he answered tersely. “Well, I’ve always been interested in approaching a big city in a train, and I can’t exactly describe the sensations, but they’re entirely human and perhaps have nothing to do with aesthetics,” Hopper replied.

“There is a certain fear and anxiety and a great visual interest in the things that one sees coming into a great city. I think that’s about all I can say about it.”

The haunting emptiness of “The Circle Theater”

July 22, 2013

There’s inertia and emptiness among the storefronts, candy signage, and subway kiosk entrance in Edward Hopper’s 1936 street scene The Circle Theater.


While the details have the realism of photography, “even here Hopper is defamiliarizing his subjects. The drug store, brightly lit up from within, is in a dark street and lights only a portion of it,” notes critic Rolf Gunter Renner, in his book Edward Hopper, 1882-1967.

“The window points up the emptiness of this system of signs: there is no one to read the message. In [the painting], a human figure, small and lost, is almost completely swallowed up by the colour contrasts of the buildings.”

Should we assume this is one of Hopper’s famous composite-like paintings, where he adds and subtracts bits and pieces of geography and architecture to create one scene—or was there really a Circle Theater next to a sad-looking drug store behind an old-school subway entrance somewhere in the Depression-era city?