Seeing Things (8): People in the Sun by Edward Hopper
April 22, 2011
People in the Sun shares that quality often found in other paintings by Edward Hopper—of people occupying the same scene but often looking like they belong to separate worlds. For instance, they could be in one of Hopper's movie theaters, waiting for the show to start, or finish. Here, five people in deck chairs are facing the sun, three look ahead, one in a brown suit and blue ascot (whom I'll call the poet) looks down at his book, and the fifth, a woman with sun-blonde hair, is blocked by the person in front of her. These people in the sun sit on chairs on top of what appears to be a concrete slab and, except for the poet, stare at the blue hills nearby which undulate as if they were ocean waves. They occupy the left side of the painting, leaving nature—clouds, hills, dry grass—alone on the right.
Hopper's world is often a melancholic place, and this one too, has a kind of Sunday lull to it. Still, the people seem content (well, four out of five), the sun warms their faces, and the world spins quietly on its axis.
Hear more about People in the Sun.
I keep telling myself that I'm not a Hopper fan and then I see one of his works that I can't ignore, like this one. AND then he does one of his iPad New Yorker covers. Maybe this image is to say he's not sunsetting, just yet?
Posted by: Sharon | Apr 23, 2011
I'm not really a painting fan, but I appreciate beautiful works like this one.
Posted by: Elizabeth Morgan | May 1, 2011
Thanks for commenting about People in the Sun. For me the painting has a kind of narrative that gets filled in by the viewer...
Posted by: Howard | May 10, 2011
American Art's Hopper oil "People in the Sun" is one of the stranger compositions that American master turned out. And it does invite speculations about why the people don't interact with each other.
Yet we find ourselves drawn in to looking at his odd painting nonetheless. I submit Hopper pulls us into his paintings with the visual strength of his designs.
One side of the canvas is all but empty while the other is tightly packed with figures and furniture. The network of cast shadows of the legs of both the people and their chairs is elegantly done. So too are the empty spaces between each of the figures' heads.
Hopper, in his own partly restrained way, was a generous and sensual painter. He gives us a lot to look at. That's why he's such a favorite for millions.
Posted by: Philip Koch | May 23, 2011
Philip, after reading your comments I took another look at the painting to see the shadows you mentioned. Thanks very much for your insights and taking the time to respond.
Posted by: Howard Kaplan | May 24, 2011
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