Edward Hopper captured a wider variety of American lights than any other painter of his generation, from the morning sun on Cape Cod houses to the neons of New York diners at night.
Edward Hopper, Cape Cod, Morning, 1950, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
In the process, he also captured more scenes of isolation than most, giving the brightest and the dimmest lights an equally lonely quality:
Edward Hopper, Automat, 1927, Des Moines Art Center
Edward Hopper, New York Movie, 1939, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Edward Hopper, Gas, 1940, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, The Art Institute of Chicago
Edward Hopper, Morning Sun, 1952, Columbus Museum of Art
Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, 1953, Museum of Modern Art, New York
Hopper must have been tired of people telling him that his paintings were only about loneliness when he said: “The loneliness thing is overdone. It formulates something you don’t want formulated” (quoted in Gail Levin, Edward Hopper: The Complete Prints, 1979).
But looking at the paintings above, it is difficult to deny that Hopper did paint some of the most haunting moments of isolation in Western art.
And these moments are bathed in the loneliest light.