1942 Oil on canvas, 30 x 60 in; The Art Institute of Chicago
Edward Hopper painted American landscapes and cityscapes with a disturbing truth, expressing the world around him as a chilling, alienating, and often vacuous place. Everybody in a Hopper picture appears terribly alone. Hopper soon gained a widespread reputation as the artist who gave visual form to the loneliness and boredom of life in the big city. This was something new in art, perhaps an expression of the sense of human hopelessness that characterized the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The Nighthawks conveys a mood of loneliness and desolation by its’ urban emptiness and by the presence of anonymous, non-communicating figures. But of this picture Hopper said: `I didn’t see it as particularly lonely… Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.’