Conference at Night Edward Hopper Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Conference at Night, an oil on canvas, was delivered to Rehn's gallery on January 18th 1949. Just a few days before, Hopper's wife Jo, had posed for the hands of the female character, who she described as the "tall straight saleswoman or head of filing staff."

Through Jo's records books, a number of facts about this painting have come to light, allowing the viewer to gain an insight into Hopper's nighttime melodrama.

Jo Hopper gave nicknames to the characters: "Sammy" was the man in white shirt sleeves, with his arm towards the woman she nicknamed "Deborah". Jo Hopper described them as garment workers "cooking up something", hence the nighttime conference they appear to be having.

Edward Hopper never revealed much about the meanings of his work but he felt obliged to give more of an explanation for this one. One of his major patrons, Stephen Clark returned the picture to the gallery because he felt that Conference at Night depicted a "communist gathering".

At that time America was paranoid about Communism. Hopper described his inspiration for the painting as coming from seeing lofts and businesses lit up with artificial lights from the streets. Certainly the way Hopper has captured the light in this scene is impressive.

Hopper often walked along Broadway, taking in the lights. He also frequented the night train in New York City catching fleeting glimpses of the buildings at night.

Hopper's paintings typically captured bits and pieces of reality but he would improvise each scene. In Conference at Night, the office is deliberately bare, the books are closed.

One man has his sleeves rolled up for work, yet the other man is dressed as if he has just arrived or is just departing. Despite the information that has been recorded about this painting, the drama contained in Hopper's Conference at Night will continue both please and puzzle the viewer.