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An Analysis Of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks

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To explain, Nighthawks was painted in 1942, right after the U.S. entered World War II. At the time, the war dominated the culture that Americans lived in, and everything was focused on supporting the war effort. Necessities such as food or clothing were rationed for troops, and neighborhood-wide drives were held to collect scrap metal. There were advertisements urging people to work for the patriotic good, and newsreels about battles were shown in theaters before movies (The U.S. Home Front During World War II). This atmosphere of intense focus and dedication was the result of fear. The bombing of Pearl Harbor, which was what prompted the U.S. to become involved in the war, was “an invasion of the American consciousness,” (Erenberg and Hirsch).…show more content…
He vehemently denied the fact that he was bothered by the possibility of being bombed, but he still showed that anxiety in his work. In a letter, Hopper's wife Jo recounted her husband's reaction to Pearl Harbor- or lack thereof, as he was solely focused on painting Nighthawks. “Ed refused to take any interest in our very likely prospect of being bombed—and we live right under glass sky-lights and a roof that leaks whenever it rains. He refuses to make for any more precautions … He's doing a new canvas and simply can't be interrupted!” (Levin, “Edward Hopper's ‘Nighthawks’”, 186). While it may seem as if fear did not impact him, that is not the case. Levin argues that his intense fixation was an attempt to bury his own anxiety. She states that “his bullying concentration unconsciously reveals the depth of his fears about the war, which fueled a work of exceptionally disquieting power” (Levin, “Edward Hopper's ‘Nighthawks’”, 188). 'Disquieting' is an excellent description of the painting's mood, as many elements of the painting work together to create a sense of…show more content…
His artistic career began as he studied at the Correspondence School of Illustrating in New York City and then at the New York School of Art. While he initially started with learning about illustration, he eventually began to study painting and drawing (Levin, Hopper). At the New York School of Art, he was taught by William Merritt Chase, an Impressionist painter, and with Robert Henri, who was a realist (Murphy). Perhaps being exposed to their teachings were what influenced the approach that Hopper took to his artwork He traveled often to many places across Europe, but as mentioned before, Paris was a particular favorite of his. He married Jo in 1923, and she became a huge part of his artistic process. She kept detailed records of his pieces and often modeled for them; in fact, she was the one who posed for the woman in Nighthawks (Levin, Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, 349). Hopper struggled as an artist until the 1920s; his work was mostly ignored and unrecognized, and had to make the majority of his sales from etching and prints. He finally achieved critical success after his second one-man show, “Recent Watercolors by Edward Hopper,” in which every single painting was sold (Troyen, 63-64). From there, Hopper began to achieve national exposure and critical acclaim. His artwork was exhibited in many galleries and collections, most
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