Odd wiews on some paintings by Ed Hopper

My humble aim is to collect here a small, but representative gallery with my favourite works by Hopper along with the comments made by my sister Ari about some 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 on 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?)-. Could that be the very house the couple inhabits; occupying -let’s say at eleven 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)

-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)

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)

4 thoughts on “Odd wiews on some paintings by Ed Hopper

  1. Wow…..such wonderful, spot on observations on these paintings. And always willing to incorporate her own routines into them. I agree with her comments in what the works depict. Sadness, even in scenarios of supposed joy in some of them, others, perfect descriptions of life events. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s