Saturday, 5 December 2015
Night Windows, 1928.Oil on canvas, 29 x 34 inches.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Edward Hopper, (1882-1967), specialised in painting night scenes of New York City. He showed views of bars, cafes, offices and domestic scenes. They evoked a real 'feel' of New York and frequently portrayed lonely individuals in unremarkable situations. At the time of this picture he was resident in Greenwich Village and this is a view into a neighbouring apartment. The woman is in an inelegant pose and seems to be oblivious of the viewer; the viewer becomes a voyeur. The way in which the woman is half out of view is something adapted from the work of Degas, someone whom Hopper admired, (see below).
We get a glimpse of someone's private space in the same way that one might do when looking out of a train window. The curtain blowing out of an open window suggests a summer evening and this scene is really more redolent of 1920's New York than views of skyscrapers; the isolation and urban loneliness of individuals who are actually crowded together is suggested. Hopper was always interested in the effects of light and this painting is almost a triptych with the three windows. Here are some other pictures by Hopper.
To me, each one of these paintings strongly suggests a narrative and a back-story :
Listening to Dissatisfied Blues by Brownie McGhee from the album Back Country Blues