Yesterday, the Edward Hopper Drawing show opened at the Whitney Museum and I had a piece published on it at the New Yorker magazine's "Culture Desk" blog. In the piece, I interview the curator of the show, Carter Foster.
A few years ago, I conducted a search for the original source of Hopper's Nighthawks diner.
My interest in finding Hopper's inspiration gave me the chance to visit Foster at his office, where he had collected bits of Hopper ephemera--Xeroxes of the artist's sketches, photographs of Greenwich Village streets, antique maps, and newspaper clippings.
It was exciting to see it all in one place, bits of evidence compiled to show how Hopper came to paint what he painted--from the vanished block of "Early Sunday Morning" to the military uniform of a movie theater usherette that appears in "New York Movie," as well as parts of "Nighthawks."
I never found the diner, and eventually concluded that it did not exist--at least not as one thing.
Carter Foster comes to the same conclusion, saying that Hopper was a synthesizer, taking pieces of the city and combining them together. “Edward Hopper is called a realist,” he told me. “But his real process was about memory, the way it infuses subjectivity, and he focussed on the material memory of the city.”
That material memory is on view at the Whitney Museum, where Hopper's sketches are presented with photographs of the city as it was. You'll even find Hopper's easel, on loan from his studio at NYU (nice of them, especially considering NYU tried to evict Hopper in 1947).
Check out the show and please visit the New Yorker to read the whole story.
Finding Nighthawks Part 1
Finding Nighthawks Part 2
Finding Nighthawks Part 3