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New York Office is a magnificent example of the Realist school of painting exemplified by Edward Hopper.
Hopper was born in 1882 in Upper Nyack, New York. His works are world famous for their realist style depictions of the mundane in American life, and yet their immediate simplicity belies a profound ability in Hopper to bring drama and complexity to each of his works.
New York Office is immediately appealing on many levels: it is simple in construction, the prime focus being on the large office window in which a beautiful girl, somewhat reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, studies a letter.
She stands, and to her right as she faces out of the window there is a single telephone on an otherwise empty desk.
Three lights shine above her, brilliantly illuminating her golden hair. Behind her a blurred figure sits and half of a seated female form, seen from behind, is in the far right of the window. The office is in deep shadow behind the central figure.
The office window is perfectly framed by mighty building blocks that are depicted simply, but which offer an air of solidity and dependence. To the left of the picture a dark, shadowed alley reveals a side view of another building, its windows empty.
The whole piece gives a mood of solitude, even loneliness. Hopper painted a number of office scenes, from the perspective of one inside them; in York Office the viewer looks in from the outside.
There are no passers by or other figures in the painting and so the central figure of the girl in the large window does not need to compete. The viewer seems to be called upon to speculate as to the nature of the beautiful woman seen behind the glass, her thoughts, and the contents of the letter she holds.
The themes of isolation, melancholic reflection and loneliness are evident in many of Hopper’s works, and New York Office stands as a magnificent example.