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Post details: Edward Hopper's Last Room

Edward Hopper's Last Room

Edward Hopper has an interesting style. He never abandoned realism for the trendy abstract tomfoolery, and for the duration of his life stayed faithful to reflecting reality rather then blurring, transforming or fragmenting it. But there is a twist to his reality. There is a certain level of detail, certain section of the palette, that seems to be deliberately omitted from his artwork. It is like listening to a symphony record with a whole frequency band completely eliminated from its spectrum. His paintings seem to be suffused with simplicity which reinforces the ground mood and doesn't distract the viewer with higher frequency non-essentials.

The National Gallery for Arts in Washington put a comprehensive sample of Hopper's oeuvre on display, so after getting a tip from a colleague of mine I set out to see one of the great American icons for myself.

The exhibition started off slowly. Walking through early rooms was like getting lost in a lighthouse district. The guy must have had an obsession with shipping safety. Fortunately, the monotony of the portrayed objects was partially offset by realizing that lots fun can be had by watching people watch paintings - their postures, their comments, and their facial expressions provided an ever changing vistas into a human psychology. But this little game lost its appeal once we entered the last room. Here was the true periscope into the soul itself.

I noticed there is a common theme to his late works. In his subdued studies Hopper captured that nearly imperceptible moment when boredom sinks its little teeth into our lives. The autumn of human existence. The Night Hawks drinking silently at a bar, the Primaballerina just past her prime absorbing the rays of sunrise, an Usherette daydreaming in a shadow of a theatre, a Young Lady waiting listlessly in an automat - those were the people whose dreams were no longer horses to saddle but rather little dogs to promenade.

Nostalgia can be masterful. Great blush of time.


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