Edward Hopper's Art: American Realism

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NIGHTHAWKS During the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, many cultural and social changes were arising in the United States. These changes were portrayed through an art form called American Realism, which attempted to depict the ordinary American life at home during different time periods. Edward Hopper became a well-known realist painter who displayed many common place scenes in his work, that capture the isolation of city life. In 1942, following the Pearl Harbor bombing, he painted his famous Nighthawks painting, which displayed the common themes of loneliness and in this case, wartime isolation, and uses Kairos, along with contrasting dark and light colors and four mysterious individuals, to bring out the deeper messages…show more content…
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, New York City practiced black out drills, which hid the city in darkness in fear of another bombing. This is displayed in the image by the absolute darkness that surrounds the diner, and only the light emitted from the diner allows us to see the surroundings. The diner being the only source of light in a dark, fearful city displays to the viewer that in these times of darkness and isolation there is still light ahead, and that people should continue living out their lives. Hopper was known to keep his light on even during these black out drills, and may have added this effect in the image to show this message of living on even when there is fear, uncertainty or even…show more content…
Edward Hopper made this piece timeless, and very American, with the small sign at the top of the diner that says, “Only 5 cents” with an image of a cigar. Plus, the cash register that could be seen due to the light of the diner, which allows the viewers to imagine the life that goes on during the mornings. Other little familiar details scattered around the diner give Nighthawks it’s very American feel that made it so popular. Edward Hopper captivated the essence of American city nightlife in the 40s with Nighthawks. The painting as a whole, in a sense, is somewhat of a critique of the modern world. A world we live in, which at the time, was overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness and wartime isolation. Yet through pathos and Kairos, Hopper allows these feelings to be timeless, and able to be felt by anyone during any time period following the creation of this painting. It is a painting that anyone could project their own reality onto, and Americans immediately did and the painting became an instant
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