My Favorite Artist of All Time. And My 5 Favorite Paintings of his.
That's easy for me. Edward Hopper. 1882-1967. American Realist who excelled in both oil and watercolor with his depictions of American life and its landscapes. Prominently featured in his paintings--everybody is alone and alienated--even when they are together and his ability to accurately reproduce different lighting scenarios. Created one of the most famous paintings ever made.
And that would be #1 on my list. You know it as "the one where people are in a coffee shop" but its real name is "Nighthawks." 1942. Takes place after midnight in a New York coffee shop. What are the man and woman talking about? Do they even know each other? Are they even talking to each other? The fluorescent lighting looks so realistic. Where is the door to the place? Most parodied painting after the farmer and his wife "American Gothic" and the "Mona Lisa." When I was a child, I would see it every few weeks at the Art Institute in Chicago. I thought it was a cartoon and so I really liked it.
Two people working very late is the theme of "Office at Night" from 1940. A simple office with the shades drawn up to allow the light and activities of the city to filter in. The two serious participants are still fully clothed in business attire which strongly dates the scene. Will they be going out somewhere together when they are finally finished?
"New York Movie" 1939 is my third favorite. For many years, I thought the woman was maybe fighting with her husband or boyfriend and was hesitating to go back into the theater. And then I looked closely and saw the red stripe on her pants. She is a hostess! An employee. Someone who would help seat people, etc. She has probably seen the movie so many times, she is just bored with it. Somebody seeing this painting now for the first time might actually think that she is on her cell phone having just returned from the restroom. As movies were all black and white back then, his portrayal of the screen in contrast to the rest of the theater is distinctive.
"Summertime" from 1943 is number 4. Portraying a young woman in front of a New York tenement who is probably hoping that the war would be over soon and life will return to normal. His brilliant use of light and shadows compliments the dominant two colors in the painting--light blue and grey.
Coming in at #5, although I could list a top 25, is one of his last paintings ever. "New York Office" from 1962 has an interesting puzzle to it. In almost every one of his other paintings, he used his wife Jo as the model and face that was featured. This one is different. The woman appears to be a very famous actress in 1962. And I'm sure that you can easily figure that one out.
There are many prints and reproductions of Edward Hopper's works available. If you want an original, his last one available called "Chop Suey" sold in 2018 for $100 MILLION.