Ari F’s views on some paintings by Edward Hopper

My humble aim is to collect here a small, but representative gallery with some of my favourite works by Hopper along with the comments made by my sister Ariel about a few of them (on the posts I published months ago on G+ with these same works). She was in hospital then, feeling quite sick, but still communicative; and she wrote some opinions worth to read.

Even though she only commented on a portion of the paintings, she spent long whiles watching them and thinking about them, and I know that those were nice whiles. To her –as well as to me–, Hopper was an old “acquaintance” since childhood, because our parents had a very good reproduction of “The Long Leg”, in oil on canvas and actual size, in our dinning-room. Our dad also had a great book about Hopper, with many illustrations of his paintings.

“Excursion into Philosophy” (1959) & “Automat” (1927) were two of her preferred Hopper’s works; they were the first I posted and the first she wrote some words about -relating them in a single comment, because both upset her in a similar way.
She always wondered what could this man be thinking and feeling, but at the end, she wrote: “[…] now I know more or less. Or so I believe.” She did not explain it; just added: “[…] above all, what Hopper depicts here masterly -as usual- is silence.”
She later wrote the comment copied below the picture:
Excursion into Philosophy (1959 – oil on canvas)
It gives me thrills! It makes me cry easily.
Being so close, these persons are so far-away and estranged! …, and the silence weights as lead; as death. I cannot feel the breath of this man –he is holding it– but, instead, I hear the tic-tac of an unseen clock hanging on some wall. I feel some other things, but here is not the place to explain them.
-And if you look for a while at the girl in this other painting, Automat, you could cry as well.
I know that girl, I know she is not in the cafeteria, but in the dark tunnel depicted behind her, on the window. There is a small blue flame in it, and there is also a slowly growing, terrible black ghost between her and the little light… Of course, it is her own shadow cast on the window’s glass, but it also illustrates herself, her mind. 
… I’ve been this girl for quite long and I know. I know the very late hour, many nights, the cold, the unfriendly light, the darkness outdoors, the fatigue, the broken hopes… So many things inside the head, so few outside…!
Automat (1927 – oil on canvas)

Seven A.M. (1948 – oil on canvas)
[Maybe this is the clock that Ari heard, without seeing it, in “Excursion into Philosophy”. … This store (with its three smallish bottles in the showcase) is as odd as the room where the woman seems to sleep and her couple stares at the floor in perfect perplexity -and, perhaps, existential anguish… (has he been reading Kafka or Kierkegaard instead of Plato, as it’s been told?)-. Could this be the very house the couple inhabits; occupying -let’s say, at nine or ten A.M.- a room in the first floor, at the back side?…]


Room in New York (1932 – oil on canvas)


-Another subtle lesson on loneliness … This other couple being again miles apart in spite of sharing the same room… The painter portrayed himself here, reading the paper, but he took care not to use his wife as a model for the girl at the piano (or at least, not to represent her -she appears in many other paintings, anyway, alone or in company).

Notice that the window is open only for us to watch; not for them.

Sea-watchers (1952 – oil on canvas)


-The woman is looking at the sea, but probably not seeing it. The man does not even look. The link between them is so heavy, rigid, useless and rusted as the chain which ties together the wooden posts at the bottom left. This couple is getting wooden and non-alive too…; their wrists and hands folded down say to me that there is very little or no hope for them (at least for the woman). They are not even affected by the wind blowing quite strongly, as the towels in the line show.

Hotel by the Railroad (1952 -oil on canvas)

-Might this one be the same couple from the previous painting (“Sea-watchers“), years later?… Anyway, their horizon is much narrower -and surely, more noisy- than ever before.

Chop Suey (1929 – oil on canvas))

-The same girl from “Automat” in a better mood and looking very pretty and well groomed,  talking with a friend (perhaps a colleague, and maybe just before going to work?)

Hotel Room (1931 – oil on canvas)

-I empathize again with that woman and her attire. In fact, the first pieces of cloth I take off when arriving to a hotel room -or to my home-, after the shoes and hat -if I wear one-, are the skirt and the panties. Keeping whatever top I’m wearing on; and even before opening my baggage… I would not sit down to read at once; I would wash my hands and probably use the toilet, but the need of feeling fresh air on my thighs and buttocks, the freedom of movement and the slight psychological (and thence, physical) arousal keeps me awake and paradoxically warm, and motivated to do things even if I’m tired as I use to be when I come back home. When I’m not bottomless when being alone or in reliable company, I tend to fade a bit out and to become depressed. I’m weird… 🙂

New York Movie (1939 – oil on canvas)

Night Windows (1928 -oil on canvas)

Interior – Model Reading (1925 – oil on canvas)

-The book, the dressing table, the unopened suitcases, the posture of that girl, make me feel -again- inside the painting… I’m skinnier, blonde, my hair is quite shorter and I exist ninety years later, but I identify anyway with her introspection, secret needs and shortcomings, and with all that loneliness around.

Summer Interior (1909 – oil on canvas)

-One of Hopper’s first (and most upsetting) paintings… What happens to that girl?  What has ocurred to her?…

Gas (1940 – oil on canvas)

Early Sunday Morning (1930 – oil on canvas)

Drug Store (1927 – oil on canvas)

Rooms by the Sea (1951 – oil on canvas)

-I wish I could live in such rooms “on” the sea…


Sun in an Empty Room (1963 – oil on canvas)

The Long Leg (1935 – oil on canvas)

The Lighthouse at Two Lights (1929 – oil on canvas)

Lighthouse Hill (1927 – oil on canvas)

Gloucester Beach, Bass Rocks (watercolour on paper, 1924)

-My village’s beach looked quite like this one during Easter season, when I was a child. Women there did not wore hats then, however (at least not all of them)


Small town on a cove (1923-24 – watercolour on paper)

-This cove looks very much like Sa Riera in Palafrugell (Empordà, Catalunya).


[The 22+1 pictures in this post are the best I’ve been able to find  for each of the paintings, even though not all of them are displayed in their original size when it was over 3 MB (except the header image, which, by the way, is not shown in its original colours –but the complementary ones– as a very personal homage of mine to my late sister, who liked to reverse the colours of many of her most loved or most personal photos.]

All my love and respect, Ariel. God bless you as you deserve so much! –  Tiro Li

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10 thoughts on “Ari F’s views on some paintings by Edward Hopper

  1. I see a very substantial and significant labor of love here. This will be something to return to many times to fully assimilate, which I’m not sure I’m competent to do, however I do appreciate it very much. Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures, and most especially, dear Ari’s words. God bless our dear Ariti, and you, phral !

    Liked by 1 person

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