Sunday, December 20, 2009


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Content and Criticism
The best-known of Edward Hopper's paintings, Nightdogs (1942) is one of his group paintings and shows customers sitting at the counter of an all-night diner. The shapes and diagonals are carefully constructed. The viewpoint is cinematic—from the sidewalk, as if the viewer is approaching the restaurant. The diner's harsh electric light sets it apart from the dark night outside, enhancing the mood and subtle emotion.

As in many Hopper paintings, the interaction is minimal, though the counterman seems to be having a few words with the man facing him. The dog’s blue leash hangs opposite the other man symbolizing her independence or perhaps implying that she has lost her owner and is taking refuge. In some cultures, blue is a protective color and Hopper later stated that “Nightdogs” has more to do with the possibility of predators in the night than with loneliness.

The restaurant depicted was inspired by one in Greenwich Village. Both Hopper, his wife and the dog Carmella posed for the figures, and Carmella gave the painting its title. As dogs can be predatory or kicked around, the title lends a fascinating duality to the scene.

More Art Hound (by artist)

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks

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