The Artist Edward Hopper

Born in 1882, the American painter Edward Hopper was an influential painter or realism and is best known for his painting Nighthawks (1942). Hopper was also a printmaker. He is known for his broad range of American subjects that include such scenes as New England lighthouses and urban diners. Hopper’s works capture an American era showcasing trains, hotels, theatres—often everyday places that collectively demonstrate the artist’s vision of his country.

Hopper was born in Nyack, New York near the Hudson River. Hopper grew up in a Baptist family of essentially Dutch origins. He had one sister, Marion. His father was a merchant and his family was relatively comfortable. Hopper attended private school for part of his education. During his teenage years Hopper began to excel in art working in various mediums. He studied at the New York Institute of Art and Design for six years. After studying he illustrated for an advertising agency until the middle of the 1920s. He was then able to travel to Europe to view the art there.

After his European travels Hopper settled in New York City and was forced to return to freelancing, but disliked the field of illustration. Initial success as a painter eluded him during his younger years, but he finally sold his first painting, Sailing, in 1911. He moved to Greenwich Village and painted various European scenes as well as scenes of New York. By 1924 Hopper had married the artist Josephine Nivison. About the same time as his marriage his work began to garner acclaim and his success was imminent. Some of his most famous works from that turning point period are Two on the Aisle (1927), Chop Suey (1929), and Railroad Sunset (1929). Hopper’s paintings are known for their apparent simplicity, but the artist was meticulous about spatial placement of his subjects and use of light.

During the Depression Hopper’s reputation as a major American artist was solidified. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art began to seriously collect his work. During the next two decades he produced some of his most critically renowned works such as Nighthawks, Hotel Lobby (1943), New York Movie (1939), and Morning in a City (1944). Hopper died in 1967 and his wife died ten months after him. Most of their works were bequeathed to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Other concentrated collections of Hopper’s work can be seen at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Nighthawks has been famously parodied to feature celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe as replacements of the figures in Hopper’s scene.