City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Edward Hopper’s Manhattan

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Julie Lasky writes a gentle, reverential piece on Edward Hopper’s studio, at New York University, over at Design Observer, complemented beautifully by Duane Michals’ photographs.

Hopper is one of the key 20th century artists when it comes to representing the modern American city, of course – we included him in the Urbis Imagining The Modern City exhibit. And I like Lasky’s reflections on his imagined Manhattan:

“The Manhattan that Hopper pinned down like a narcotized specimen is not a village with friendly dogs and children, and certainly not the Village. It’s a city that is paved over, glassed in, and swimming in heat—the lonely dive in “Nighthawks,” the erotically charged workplace in “Office at Night,” and even the generic brickscape of chimney rows and skylights painted from the top of his building in “Roofs of Washington Square.””

And her noting of the great Robert Hughes’s comments on Hopper, which reveal the interior perspective of modern art and perhaps suggest that Hopper’s Manhattan is best thought of as an imagined soft city.

“The critic Robert Hughes credits him with establishing not just the shadowy visual style but also the private investigator trope of film noir. “It was Hopper,” Hughes writes, “a man of extreme inhibitions who had no interest in communicating with the world at large except through his art, and then only obliquely, who saw that the old frontier had moved inward and now lay within the self, so that the man of action, extroverted and self-naming, was replaced by the solitary watcher.””

Studio of Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper’s Studio at New York University


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