Edward Hopper (1882-1967) The Aesthetics of Isolation

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, I have been thinking how to progress with the IAP module which is heavily based around portraiture. Obviously it would have been easier/more interesting (perhaps) had I been able to access people to photograph. But on reflection, the lockdown demands more imagination and creativity.

I recently came across the work of the American painter Edward Hopper (1882–1967). When viewing his work the words that came to me were boredom, isolation and emptiness. His frequent use of windows, implying separation, perfectly connoting life as we currently know it.

My interest in Hopper’s work piqued further when I read the Tate essay by Gregory Crewdson (see below). Particularly because I had spent time researching Crewdson during the recently completed CAN module. I hadn’t previously appreciated that Hopper had been such an influence on Crewdson. But the similarities are obvious. The two share an elliptical, psychological, cinematic style. Very stripped, moody and deliberate.

Hopper. Automat (1927)

Hopper. Western Motel (1957)

Hopper’s influence

In his 2004 Tate Etc essay entitled ‘Aesthetics of Alienation’ Gregory Crewdson discusses Hopper’s influence on ‘so many contemporary painters, writers and, above all, photographers and filmmakers’ (1) including himself. Some examples are:

Robert Frank

Frank: ‘View from hotel window – Butte, Montana (1956)

Hopper: ‘Morning Sun’ (1952)

Alfred Hitchcock

Hopper: House by the Railroad (1925)

Hitchcock: The house featured in the movie Psycho (1960)

Hopper: Night Windows (1928)

Hitchcock: Rear Window (1954)

Todd Haynes

Hopper: Room in New York (1932)

Todd Haynes: Safe (1995)

Gregory Crewdson

Hopper: Nighthawks (1942)

Crewdson. Birth (2007)


(1) Crewdson, G., 2004. Aesthetics Of Alienation: Edward Hopper II – Tate Etc | Tate. [online] Tate. Available at: <https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-1-summer-2004/aesthetics-alienation> [Accessed 28 March 2020].

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