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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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Atmospheric cityscapes mark the signature style of Realist painter, Edward Hopper. Here we discuss his painting style in great depth.

Edward Hopper offered a unique approach

At a time when art was moving into ever-more abstract forms, where expression was king, Hopper offered a more traditional approach in capturing charming scenes across the United States in his bright realist style. The collection of his best work included here underlines how his style points to influences from the French impressionists of the 19th century, combining with the unique environment in which he was brought up in the US.

Signature artwork - Nighthawks

Nighthawks is the most famous example of Hopper's method of capturing simple scenes in from American life, never filling the canvas with too many individuals. Often, a single person would be used to make the focus of the painting.

Clever use of light and architecture

Experimentation with light was also something Edward Hopper incorporated into his work, often by using the angles of light across internal rooms of houses and offices, of the influence of light across objects in a landscape. One interesting aspect of this career was how the calmness of these scenes would contrast so markedly with the artist's own inner turmoil which would eventually bring his influential life to an abrupt end.

Memorable charm runs throughout his work

There is a timeless, accessible quality to Edward Hopper paintings, without the controversy of abstract expressionists, but retaining the bright colour and imagination of impressionism. It was also the way in which he limited his scenes to just a single or couple of figures which allowed this atmosphere to seep into his work. Even his city-based artworks would separate people from their surrounding environment.

Many academics have argued that Hopper was not actually particularly impressive in terms of his technical ability but his style would prove highly popular with the public. He became a real cult figure, almost, with his method of capturing American life from more traditional times being entirely accessible by the masses.

His content was also simple and uncluttered, making many of his most famous paintings ideally suited to art prints, for which his career still remains particularly popular. In some cases there are also specific locations related to some of his works, such as Cape Cod or New York City and so can make stunning momentos of a particular trip or memory.

Retained his popularity up to the present day

Some find other contemporary art a little devoid of structure or traditional artistic principles, and Hopper serves as an alternative to that. The American Realism group as a whole continue to retain considerable support across the US and their work has also risen substantially in value over the past few decades.

The likes of Edward Hopper have also underlined a point at which the US was starting to lead the international art world, having followed for so many centuries. We were starting to see artists producing new art movements and styles, but also in this case we could find highly significant domestic movements appearing across the country.

Hopper therefore focused on American life, matching the patriotism of many within this nation, and also working in messages about modern life from which we can all learn. His career has hit the heights it has because of the interest given to it by the public, and that is just as strong today as it ever has been.

Below you will find a selection of his most famous works of all, and each one features a discussion about its individual merits and where it fits within the artist's overall oevure. Some of the subtle comments on society remains just as relevant today as they were during his own lifetime.

Bootleggers Edward Hopper
Bridle Path Edward Hopper
Bridle Path
Rooms for Tourists Edward Hopper
Rooms for Tourists
Second Story Sunlight Edward Hopper
Second Story Sunlight
Sun in an Empty Room Edward Hopper
Sun in an Empty Room
Sunlight on Brownstones Edward Hopper
Sunlight on Brownstones
Tables for Ladies Edward Hopper
Tables for Ladies