May 11, 2008 Homage to Edward Hopper

Today my wife Karen and I made a special trip to Chicago to see the last day of the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Chicago Institute of Arts.  Edward Hopper is among my favorite artists, and his paintings influenced my photography of classic old buildings.  He is most famous for his painting “Nighthawks,” in which late night patrons of a lonely urban diner are playing out some vague drama.  This painting is one of the best-known paintings in America and, as an icon, is much parodied.  I have a favorite Starbucks cup that features this painting–only the setting is a Starbucks coffee shop.  I also have a Christmas card that portrays Santa and his reindeer stopping for a 3:00 am coffee break in the same diner.

My favorite Hopper works are his studies of light on classic old buildings; the psychodramas that make up much of his later work are interesting, but they don’t add that much meaning for me.  I think a great deal can be implied simply by the human details (without the humans).  Besides, I think he was better at rendering buildings than humans.  

The Chicago exhibit was among the best art exhibitions we have seen.  It is over, but you can review some of Hopper’s work at the following websites.

On the return trip from Chicago on the South Shore Line, an interurban railroad, I photographed a woman sitting alone on the passenger seat across from me.  I think it shows how I was channelling Edward Hopper on this wonderful day.

This is part of a weblog documenting my travels and photography. I am primarily a nature photographer, and you can see more of my work at

Click on the photograph below to see a larger version.

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