Monday, March 17, 2014

Jean-Michel Basquiat

The artist that I chose was Jean-Michel Basquiat, a famous artist in urban, Hip-Hop  and New York City culture. Some of the images I chose represents Basquiat's work and attitude as a whole. Though Basquiat was known for his graffiti art around SOHO manhattan, and his SAMO graffiti art movements around New York City, he published over thousands of paintings and drawings before he died. What makes Basquiat so unique is not only his style of untraditional techniques and innateness, but his layers of layers of drawings which captures his art as a whole. Basquiat also puts down words to describe what his paintings are about. Basquiat's work also resembles political problems and stereotypical views going on within black culture.
This illustration is called Rice and Chicken, made in 1981. This picture resembles the stereotypical view of Black people's love for chicken. It shows a black person serving food to a white person. The illustration's meaning comes from the stereotype of Blacks people's love for chicken, which only came from the origin of slavery when black servants served slave masters.
The next illustration from Basquiat is The Irony of The Negro Policeman, produced in 1981. This painting was to show the irony behind a black person being a law enforcer who is deceptive to a white majority. It also shows a cage behind the black face to show that in reality, black people lead the nation in population for incarceration. This picture brings about the question, who would want to work for a society that imprisons its own kind. 
The last illustrations that I chose by Basquiat is Skull, produced in 1981. This painting shows a black male with a halo or crown above his head. The meaning behind the painting resembles an opposing view of black men in america. Black men aren't recognized as being intellectual and inferior through  educating themselves but are only accepted as athletes. The mindset of physicality over intelligence penetrates the many minds of stereotypical views. Basquiat wants to show in his painting that what makes the black male, or any human is his mind. 


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Georges Braque

Georges Braque
1882 – 1963
“The painting is finished when the idea has disappeared.” -Braque

     Georges Braque fascinates me for two reasons primarily: he was instrumental in the formation of cubism but is often overlooked and his nature as a quiet, reserved inventive man is consistently expressed in the evolution of his work (he also has some of my favourite quotes). Braque began painting by training as a house painter and a decorator in the family tradition, but through this entry point he began to study artistic painting at the Institute of Fine Arts in Le Havre.  After finishing a certification in Le Havre, he went on to study at the Humbert Academy in Paris and it was here that he experienced his first major change in style. Up until this point, Braque had primarily been working in an impressionistic style, a style which emphasized freely brushed colors over the rules of academic painting, but at the Academy he encountered the “Fauves” and was heavily influenced by their style. Fauvism can be described as utilizing bright colors to represent emotional responses in a piece, practiced by such artists as Matisse and Derain. After his exposure to this artistic group, Braque worked with some fellow artists from Le Havre to quiet down the style and make it more to his liking. In the piece below, Le Viaduc de L’Estaque, we can see how Braque has moved away from impressionism with the defined lining in the piece and the overall composition to embrace Fauvism with his brilliant use of color to emphasize the subject of his painting.  Interestingly compared to other Fauvist artists, Braque is very sparingly using his color palate in order to not distract from the subject in any way. This is a trend expressed throughout his life’s work, a focus on the use of color in shades and values, but with caution against using too many colors with many pieces being completely monochromatic. In this piece the muted blue/green framing elements are sharply contrasted by the red/orange focal colors. 

In 1907, Braque gained some notice by exhibiting his Fauvist works and while in Paris for his exhibit had the opportunity to visit the retrospective gallery of Cezanne, who had passed just the year before.  Braque became heavily influenced by the work of Cezanne and was began to experiment with geometric simplification and new ideas of color usage to show dimensionality. Braque also experimented with the idea of simultaneous perspective and sought to question the artistic norms of the time. During this time, Braque met Pablo Picasso and they immediately began working closely together. For a period of around 6 years Picasso and Braque painted side by side and together developed a totally new style. Both artists had been impressed by the work of Cezanne and their shared focus allowed them to heighten each other’s work while bringing different perspectives.  Braque was more concerned with analysis and contemplation of a piece while Picasso was concerned with trying to express animation. Together they invented first Analytical Cubism and then Cubism itself. Interestingly, for a two year period the artists’ works were so similar that we still cannot determine the exact ownership of some of them today. 

“The things that Picasso and I said to one another during those years will never be said again, and even if they were, no one would understand them anymore. It was like being roped together on a mountain.” -Braque

The painting below, La guitare, is an example of Analytical Cubism and truly an insight into the way that Braque practiced the style in this time period. The piece is monochromatic with a shattered, simultaneous perspective of the guitar showing all the aspects of the item being examined and allowing the viewer to consider it in a new way. The Cubist style also had a large allure in that it granted the artist more control over the reading that their viewers would draw from the piece, as Ernst Gombrich put it the style could “enforce one reading of the picture – that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas”. La guitare has always been an amazing piece to me as it is at the same time crystal clear what the subject of the piece is and totally novel as you are seeing a guitar depicted in a totally new way.  The piece also impresses me in the rich texture and depth being displayed with only one color and simple geometric shapes.

File:Georges Braque, 1909-10, La guitare (Mandora, La Mandore), oil on canvas, 71.1 x 55.9 cm, Tate Modern, London.jpg

In 1914, Braque parted ways with Picasso and served in the French Army for the beginning of World War I. While in battle he was severely injured and spent some time recovering. In 1916, Braque picked up painting and once again began muting the style he had been working in, except this time the style he had helped create!  During this period, Braque drew from his early experience in Expressionism and Fauvism to break the rules of Cubism with brilliant colors and rich textures. He also expanded his artistic focus in this period to include many new mediums, including sculpture, printmaking, and stained glass. The piece below, Etude De Nu, fascinated me because it is a study drawing from this period that really exhibits how his background is influencing his work. While still using many of the techniques he developed in cubism to portray his subject, Braque did not fracture the image and instead represented the woman in the drawing in an impressionistic way by focusing on the realistic depiction of changing light and some element of movement in the piece instead of the harsh perspective based analysis he had pioneered. I was also extremely impressed by the way that Braque uses simple lines to give a very complete impression of the female subject by varying his line weights and adding in charcoal afterwards. Interestingly, though the overarching influence is definitely cubist, I truly felt that this piece was extremely realistic in its portrayal and carries a lot of emotional weight. 

Georges Braque. Study of a Nude (Etude de nu). (1907-1908)

In August of 1963, Braque passed in Paris after a long, quiet, and prolific career.  Braque is buried in the cemetery of the church whose stained glass he designed.


Braque, Georges, Brigitte Léal, Gary Tinterow, and Alison De Lima. Greene. Georges Braque, 1882-1963: Paris, Grand Palais, Galeries Nationales, 16 Septembre 2013-6 Janvier 2014, Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, 16 Février-11 Mai 2014. Paris: Réunion Des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais, 2013. Print.

Butler, Karen K., Georges Braque, Renée Maurer, Patricia Favero, Uwe Feckner, Gordon Hughes, Narayan Khandekar, Erin Mysak, and Éric Trudel. Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life 1928 - 1945 ;. Munich: DelMonico , Prestel, 2013. Print.

Zurcher, Bernard, and Simon Nye. Georges Braque, Life and Work. New York: Rizzoli, 1988. Print.

Chipp, Herschel Browning., and Georges Braque. Georges Braque, the Late Paintings, 1940-1963. Washington, D.C.: Phillips Collection, 1982. Print.

"Georges Braque, 1908, Le Viaduc de L'Estaque (Viaduct at L'Estaque), oil on canvas" Wikimedia Commons. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.

"Georges Braque, 1909-10, La guitare (Mandora, La Mandore), oil on canvas" Wikimedia Commons. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.

Braque, Georges. "Study of a Nude (Etude De Nu)." Gift of Patrick and Tania Cramer, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.

Francis Bacon

I first became aware of Francis Bacon in 2009 when I visited El Prado for the first time. There was a special exhibition of his paintings. The paintings were erie, but they drew me in at the same time. I love artworks, in general, for the emotional responses they trigger. Bacon's works were haunting and made me a little uncomfortable. I think this is why they had such a large impact on me.

Bacon was born in Dublin to his English parents in 1909. He was the second of five children his parents had. He moved to London with his family during World War I. Bacon was kicked out of his house by his strict father after his parents suspected he was gay. This would affect his paintings and relationships with male authority figures later in his life. After spending time in Germany, Bacon returned to London and started designing furniture. It was during this phase that Bacon started painting.

His early works were not considered surrealist enough to be included in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. This sent Bacon into a down spiral causing him to destroy a large number of pieces.

He was unfit to serve in World War II and went back to painting and ended up selling a painting to the MoMA. After this success, Bacon returned to London and painted his first take on Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X which marked the start of his obsession with male authority figures in his art.

After this point his style evolved. It retained techniques that critics said were reminiscent of  old masters in their richness and lines. However it was blended with surrealism.  

In 1957 he painted Study for a Portrait of van Gogh V 

In this painting it is easier to see how Bacon's style combined traditional techniques with surrealism. 

Head of a Man, 1960 

Seated Woman, 1961 

I appreciate Bacon's sketching style because of his loose lines that translates well to his paintings. 

Study for a Portrait of Lucian Freud (sideways), 1971 

Untitled (Kneeling Figure), 1982 

Each style shift coincides with deaths of Bacon's close friends or family, introductions to new artists, and success or failure of his art exhibitions. 

At the end of this progression Bacon had strayed from clear figures. I think that these figures depict something more human. It is more about the movement and flesh than the individual features. Bacon found a way to reduce people to their human essence while extracting their uniqueness that comes from defined traits. I think this is what was so haunting and powerful about his work. 

Russell, John. Francis Bacon. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc., 1985. Print.

Bacon/Moore: Flesh and Bone 12 September 2013 to 5 January 2014. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club Ltd. , 2013. Print.

Peppiatt, Michael. Francis Bacon in the 1950s. Norwich: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts , 2006. Print.

Auguste Rodin

Having always had an interest in sculptures, I decided to look through the works of traditional and modern day sculptors. While doing so, the pieces of Auguste Rodin caught my attention, particularly, his collection called “The Gates of Hell.” Rodin had originally begun this project by request of French Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts, Jules Ferry. However, what had started as a project for this little-known artist, turned into a life-long, career defining masterpiece.

Born in Paris, November 12, 1840, Francois Auguste Rene Rodin was the son of a minor police official. The majority of his childhood and adolescence was spent drawing and sculpting. When he was denied entrance into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he worked in partnership with Beligain artist van Ras-bourgh. Over the course of his adulthood, Rodin used his talent in decorative art to support his family. During this time, Rodin continuously submitted his work in competitions for exhibition, but to no avail. A major turning point for Rodin was when he received the request to create a pair of bronze doors for a new arts museum in Paris. From this Rodin began his nearly 40 year project of “The Gates of Hell”


Rodin initially found inspiration for the double doors in Inferno,  the first installment of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. He spent an entire year trying to understand Dante through sketches and drawings. Rodin was motivated by the freedom and expressivity of the Inferno and modeled his creation in light of that. Due to this type of freedom, Rodin heavily experimented with emotional and sexual expression through his figures.

Within this collection is Rodin’s most renowned creation: The Thinker. Due to its lack of context or anecdotal cues, the message behind the sculpture is forever open-ended. This was intentionally done by Rodin; he wanted his pieces to be individually interpreted. Rodin did, however, offer some insight into his thought process when creating The Thinker:

“What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils, and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.”
Rodin has a particular appreciation for the power of the creative mind.

Unfortunately, Rodin’s life-long creation was never cast in bronze because the museum was never erected. The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia currently possesses the first bronze cast of The Gates of Hell, received in 1925.

I chose to work on this project of Rodin’s because I am fascinated not only with the artistic skill with which it was made, but also in the historical and literary connections made within it. Auguste Rodin was simply asked to make a bronze door for a new museum, but instead, he decided to use that request as an opportunity for expression of his thoughts and human nature.  The Gates of Hell, in my opinion, is a powerful piece of art that demonstrates Rodin’s exceptional artisanship.




Rodin's Sculpture. A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection. California Palace of the Legion of Honor by Jacques de Caso; Patricia B. Sanders; Rodin Rediscovered by Albert E. Elsen

The Gates of Hell. Elsen, Albert. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA. 1985.




Different. That's what I was looking for while looking through the books in Lilly Library. It was difficult to find something that didn't seem like had already been done. It seemed that I was more interested in street art - more specifically, art that's shocking - I think that's the kind of art that is remembered. I also like art which encompasses fashion. One of my favorite artists is Elmsgreen and Dragset. Their Prada Marfa building in Marfa, Texas and their Prada Marfa sign are definitely among one of my favorite pieces. However, in looking through the book I found an artist which I thought was original. It was different to me, at least. 

Ein, whose real name is Ben Flynnis a street artist based in London. He is most famous for his letters which he graffitis across walls in London. He used to work for artists like Banksy, for which he used to produce the prints. Only in 2008, did he start his own solo career. His neon and black EINE stickers were very famous in London as well. As was his VANDALS collection; he started producing sweatshirts with his trademark design.
Below are some photos of his art.

Eine was asked to spray a big anti anti anti graffiti in London across from Mother London. He then was asked to spray a Pro in october 2010 following the anti anti anti assignment for an advertising agency. This shows the marketing value and advertisement his street art could generate for brands, making it very lucrative for him to make more similar deals and "cash in" on his fame. Eine, however, considers these firms "evil" and does not plan to work for them in the future as he considers that selling out and is generally against it. 

"Vandalism" - one of his most famous works in London which he graffitied in 2007. He uses spray cans to make his murals. This prompted a clothing line and became an iconic artwork in pop culture.

The letter M was sprayed across a gallery in London where Eine was having an exhibition in 2010.

As a final note, another one of his bright and colorful and very typical street art works: the alphabet which was made in 2010. I found this to be quite original and interesting.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Edgar Degas

by Hayley Young

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, better known as Edgar Degas, was a French artist born in 1834. Throughout his career, he ventured into various forms of art, including drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and painting. Degas was at the forefront of the Impressionist movement, although he did not like this term and preferred to be called a realist.

Degas was born into a wealthy family and began painting at a very early age. However, his decision to become an artist was not completely embraced by his family. Degas lost his mother at the age of 13, and therefore was largely influenced by his father and grandfather, who expected him to become a lawyer. He enrolled at the University of Paris to study law, but put little effort into his coursework; he was so passionate about art that he had converted his bedroom into an artist's studio.

Degas's life changed when he met Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Ingres famously gave him this advice:

"Draw lines, young man, and still more lines, both from life and from memory, and you will become a good artist."

The same year that Degas met Ingres, he was accepted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. For practice, he copied and drew artwork from the Renaissance era, most notably from artists like Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo. These study drawings led to the creation of what many consider to be his first masterpiece, The Bellelli Family, depicted below.

In addition to this painting, Degas started off by creating portraits of his family members.
Marguerite Degas 
Achille Degas in the Uniform of a Cadet

In the 1860's, Degas committed to his life as an artist, abandoning any academic endeavors he previously pursued. The artist Edouard Manet introduced him to Impressionism, which, in addition to his new commitment to Parisian life as inspiration, contributed to a change in Degas's artistic style and subject matter. Degas became captivated by ballet, which is reflected in much of his work. While Degas previously favored painting historical scenes, he now began to create art that was inspired by modern life and figures. A large portion of Degas's paintings are of beautiful ballet students with large tutus, often depicted in their dance studios. 
The Dance Class (1873-76)

Dancers Climbing the Stairs (1886-90)

As you can see by the dates on these paintings, Degas used ballerinas as his subject matter for many, many years. He painted soft edges and used soft pastel colors to create paintings that are, in my opinion, some of the most aesthetically pleasing I have ever seen. The reason I chose to write about Degas is because I saw his painting, Dancers Climbing the Stairs, a few years ago, and I haven't been able to forget it. I loved Degas's use of a dominating- but not too bold- orange background. This truly highlights the soft blue dresses that the dancers are wearing. After all, orange and blue are complementary colors. The essence of his painting style seems to fit the grace and movement of the ballerinas. If we look at his paintings, it almost seems like a snapshot, or a peek into a ballet studio in Paris; the positions of each ballerina seem so natural and real. 

Degas continued to create works of art into the early 1900's, but suffered from poor vision and eventually became blind. He never married or had children.


Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian painter in the 16th century who was well-known for painting portrait heads made completely of objects, creating an optical illusion. Arcimboldo has made portraits of vegetables, animals, books, and kitchen objects. His portraits have inspired a wealth of art.

 The Four Seasons, 1573
Oil on canvas

These portraits have been viewed with different interpretations. One interpretation is that the portraits are an amusing work of fantasy, focusing on the curious double image shown of the individual objects and the image as a whole. Another interpretation holds that they are allegorical and related to the Hapsburg Empire and 16th century science, with the objects acting as complicated symbols, interacting with texts and statements from that time. A third interpretation is that the portraits represent metaphysical statements as a new vision of man.

Many of Arcimboldo’s portraits were painted with oil, but drawings are also documented, especially from his costume design.
Albino Crow, 1574

The fauna and flora used in Arcimbolo’s portraits were based off of exceptionally accurate studies, and all the objects in his portraits were carefully chosen.

Not only did Arcimboldo paint famous oil portraits, he was commissioned to do stained glass windows in cathedrals, painted portraits for the Habsburg court, and worked as a court decorator and costume designer.

Project for a Costume: The Sea Dragon
Pen, blue ink, and watercolor on paper

Self Portrait, 1575
Pen and blue pencil on paper

Arcimboldo worked in a variety of media, and showed different styles within his different commissions, from lifelike oil portraits to fantastical costume design to thought-provoking portraits made of objects. His approach to art was very methodical and thoughtful, but at the same time creative, going beyond the norms of his time to create a completely different style.


The Arcimboldo Effect: Transformations of the Face from the 16th to the 20th Century. Abbeville Press, NY. 1987.

Ferino-Pagden, Sylvia. Arcimboldo: 1526-1593. Skira Editore, Italy. 2007.

Kaufmann, Thomas Dacosta. Arcimboldo: Visual Jokes, Natural History, and Still-Life Painting. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 2009.

Maiorino, Giancarlo. The Portrait of Eccentricity: Arcimboldo and the Mannerist Grotesque. The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park. 1991.


Gian Lorenzo Bernini 

Better known nowadays simply as Bernini, his sculptures and architecture defined what it meant to be a Baroque artist. As leader of the style, he secured commissions with the papacy including patronage of Urban VIII, Innocent X, Alexander VII, and even King Louis XIV of France. His most notable rival was Alessandro Algardi, but Bernini was considered the master of his day. 

Influenced by his father, a Florentine sculptor, Bernini began his career in Rome and caught the eye of Annibale Carracci. He established himself at age 22 by gaining the patronage of Pope Paul V and later Cardinal Scipione Borghese, under whom he completed his first influential group of sculptures from 1619-1624. This particular group of sculptures tell dynamic stories of transitional moments in famous narratives. They reflect psychological energy and realism in physical detail. 

The Rape of Proserpina (1621) is one of Bernini's earlier works and breaks from Mannerist tradition in its single viewpoint. Sculptures from the previous period required onlookers to walk around the statue in order to absorb the entirety of the story. Most critics praise the twisting serpentine body of Proserpina as she tries to escape from Pluto and the texture of the skin evoked in the marble, as shown by Pluto's hands digging into Proserpina's thigh.

Apollo and Daphne (1622) captures a moment of transition as Apollo attempts to seize Daphne as she is turning into a tree. Bernini again sculpted the work for it to be viewed from a single viewpoint, the side, in order for the observer to appreciate the narrative by simultaneously viewing both subjects facial expressions. There is some controversy about attributing the sculpture only to Bernini since a member of Bernini's workshop helped complete the details of the statue, including the leaves, bark, and hair of Daphne. 

Bernini's David (1623) is a break from classical depictions of the biblical story. The Baroque David is in combat, twisted, and contains a sense of potential energy. Renaissances Davids usually depicted him in a moment of calm triumph after defeating Goliath. 

In 1623 he began his work under the patronage of Urban VIII and created some of his most notable architectural pieces. He was appointed chief architect of St. Peter's in 1629. He began with baldachin, an enormous gilded structure recognizable for it's twisted columns, a break with the classic christian columns of the day. Bernini was deeply religious and involved in the Counter Reformation. He commonly used light as a metaphor for the focus of religious worship by incorporating hidden light sources into his works. 

Although he completed many significant busts of powerful men during his time, no single work was linked to as personal or dramatic of a backstory as that of Constanza Bonarelli. She was the wife of one of Bernini's assistants but carried on an affair first with the artist himself, and then his brother. Upon learning of the secondary affair, Bernini beat his brother, ordered Constanza's face slashed with a razor, and eventually paid his way out of trouble. 

1641 marked the beginning of a fall from grace for Bernini. His work on the facade of the Basilica cracked after a few years and eventually had to be removed. Critics blamed this on Bernini's poor engineering and planning rather than flaws within the stone itself. He also controversially won commission for the Four Rivers Fountain, his largest public work to date. The fountain was built during a famine and funded with public monies. 

The greatest work completed in Bernini's later career is perhaps The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, housed in Cornaro Chapel. The work depicts, in marble, the moment were Teresa received a vision as she was pierced in the heart by a cherub and filled with divine love. The work also incorporates painting and a hidden light source to elevate the onlookers religious experience. 

Bernini wasn't strictly a sculptor, but his painting did take a side line to his other notable works. Depicted below are two self portraits, one of him as a young man (1623) and the other a mature man (1635).  

Gian Lorenzo Bernini dominated the art world of the seventeenth century, thriving under the patronage of cardinals and popes while simultaneously challenging contemporary artistic traditions. His sculptural and architectural projects revealed new reinterpretations of subjects, different use of forms, and combined a variety of media. He was instrumental in establishing a dramatic yet realistic Baroque style.

Bernini is by far one of my most admired artists. He was a rockstar of his time and wildly successful. His treatment of the human form has inspired many a photo shoot with the publication I work with at Duke in one way or another. When I think of classic art, Bernini's work comes to mind before that of Michelangelo or even DaVinci. His stand alone sculptures  completed under the patronage of Cardinal Borghese are my favorite works. 


Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper is considered to be one of America’s most influential mid-century painters because his art creates a unique vision of American modern life. His work ranges from oil paintings to watercolor and printmaking of rural and city landscapes and people. Born in upper New York in 1882, Hopper grew up wanting to be an artist, where he studied at the New York School of Art and Design and cited Eduoard Manet and Edgar Degas as his main influences. During the early 1900s when Hopper finished art school, like many artists in their early years, he struggled to make a living. However, he slowly broke through around the 1920s as more of his works received public recognition.

For example, this sketch above titled “Night on the El Train” (1918) is one of Hopper’s early works whose themes (couples in silence and solitude) are a precursor to those themes used in his later works.

This sketch above called “Evening Wind” (1921) is an example of one of Hopper’s early works of a nude model looking out of a window. He would have many paintings later on that explore the human figure and the theme of looking out of a window towards the horizon.

I first discovered Hopper when I was 12 years old, flipping through a book on famous American painters. The painting that caught my eye was not one of his most famous paintings, but it was interesting enough where it made me want to research his style more in depth.  

One of the aspects that I was fascinated about this painting above was the perspective and use of vibrant colors. There was also something about the use of space. This intersection feels incredibly large and is the opposite of the busy intersection you find today in New York for example. The second aspect I particularly liked was the whole mood of the painting. There is this emptiness and feeling of solitude, which is present in many of Hopper’s paintings. One of the ways he captures this is the sharp contrast in light and dark colors. The trees in the background are almost black compared to the bright, pastel colored buildings and gas station sign. The title of this painting is “Portrait of Orleans” (1950) and was painted in Orleans in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This leads me to this painting, called “Gas” (1940). This is one of the more iconic Hopper paintings, which is encompasses the themes of loneliness, isolation and the borderline situation of American modernism and nature. The narrative expresses that the last car passed some time ago and the attendant is shutting down the pump for some amount of time. I view this painting as expressing the contrast between civilization and nature where this gas station seems to sit on the border between these two things, and the lonely country road is the only thing that connects these almost two separate realities.  The use of light and dark is very present in this painting. The light in the gas station is almost fluorescent and sort of hurts your eyes, while the road leads into this black darkness separating the gas station, a piece of human industrialization, from nature. Besides all of this commentary I have just written, I think it’s a pretty sweet painting.  


I can’t even begin to express how much I love this painting. I have a poster of it hanging up in my dorm, a poster of it hanging up in my room back home, and I’ve seen it in the Chicago Institute of Art multiple times. There are probably a thousand ways on how this painting can be interpreted because the themes are kind of ambiguous, but it is definitely the kind of painting that can be appreciated from a purely aesthetic and technical point of view. Oh yeah, it’s called “Nighthawks” and was completed in 1942.

This is a study drawing of “Nighthawks.” (Notice the use of contrast between the light of the inside of the building and the darkness of the outside)

There are dozens of other paintings by Edward Hopper that I appreciate, but the ones above indisputably my favorite. In summary, the reason why I am really interested in Hopper and appreciate his works is because of his finely calculated renderings of space, perspective and light and dark contrast.


Murhpy, Jessica. "Edward Hopper." Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 3 Mar 2014. <>.

"Edward Hopper and His Paintings." Edward Hopper. Web. 3 Mar 2014. <>.