where was nighthawk created edward hopper
Nighthawks is a 1942 oil on canvas painting by Edward Hopper that portrays people in a downtown diner late at night as viewed through the diner’s large glass window. Also portrayed are the exteriors of the urban structures across the street from the diner.
Many artists have produced works that allude or respond to Nighthawks.
Nighthawks is a 1942 painting by Edward Hopper that portrays people sitting in a downtown diner late at night. It is Hopper’s most famous work and is one of the most recognizable paintings in American art. Within months of its completion, it was sold to the Art Institute of Chicago for $3,000, and has remained there ever since.
Starting shortly after their marriage in 1924, Edward Hopper and his wife, Josephine (Jo), kept a journal in which he would, using a pencil, make a sketch-drawing of each of his paintings, along with a precise description of certain technical details. Jo Hopper would then add additional information in which the themes of the painting are, to some degree, illuminated.
In January 1942, Josephine wrote a letter to Edward’s sister Marion about the new painting:
According to the journal kept by Hopper’s wife Josephine, the Nighthawks painting was completed on January 21st, 1942 in New York, within weeks following the bombing of Pearl Harbour. For that reason, the work is often seen as an expression of wartime alienation. In this turbulent times in history when everyone was paranoid about another attack and New York held blackout drills on an ongoing basis as a way to practice hiding the city in darkness in case another aerial assault ever came, Hopper’s studio lights stayed on. In her diary, his wife wrote:
In other studies, made on higher-quality paper than the others, Hopper refined the figures—the tilt of their heads, the angle of their bodies, the way light falls on their skin and clothing. His wife, Jo, posed for the female figures. Hopper himself posed for the males—presumably using double mirrors so he could see himself.
Hopper generally didn’t consider his drawings as art objects that should be exhibited or sold. To him, they were simply studio materials—documents of the process he used to conceive and to plot, in minute detail, the stories he told on his canvases.
Around this time, the statuesque Hopper (he stood 6’5″) began making regular summer trips to New England, whose picturesque landscapes provided ample subject matter for his impressionist-influenced paintings. Examples of this include Squam Light (1912) and Road in Maine (1914). But despite a flourishing career as an illustrator, during the 1910s Hopper struggled to find any real interest in his own art. However, with the arrival of the new decade came a reversal of fortune. In 1920, at age 37, Hopper was given his first one-man show, held at the Whitney Studio Club and arranged by art collector and patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The collection primarily featured Hopper’s paintings of Paris.
Josephine was instrumental in Hopper’s transition from oils to watercolors and shared her art-world connections with him. These connections soon led to a one-man exhibition for Hopper at the Rehn Gallery, during which all of his watercolors were sold. The success of the show allowed Hopper to quit his illustration work for good and marked the beginning of a lifelong association between Hopper and the Rehn.