Art & Design Magazine

Revisiting Edward Hopper's Cape Cod Morning

By Americanart

In honor of the 136th anniversary of Edward Hopper's birth, we're taking a closer look at his iconic painting, "Cape Cod Morning," one of the highlight's of SAAM's collection.

In Cape Cod Morning, a woman looks out a bay window at something in the middle distance, something just beyond the frame. The window, cast in deep shadows, juts out from a facade bathed in brilliant light. Here, half the composition is given over to a richly hued, golden grass landscape, one tethered only by undulating clouds. A strain reverberates throughout the piece, situated everywhere and nowhere in particular. This inherent tension has come to define much of Edward Hopper 's work, but to probe it deeply, as observers are wont to do, is to miss the artist's subtleties, his splendor.

Born July 22, 1882 in Nyack, New York, Hopper, from an early age, gravitated to solitary pursuits, among them, sketching and sailing, studying with intention the nuances of light and shadow. The artist, who would go on to produce more than 800 paintings, watercolors, and prints, remained a detached observer of the world. Writing in The Guardian, Laura Cumming echoes this: "'one was aware,' wrote a friend, 'of a slight displacement in [Hopper's] experience of his own person...as when we are strangers to ourselves, and become objects of our own contemplation.'" Implicit in this is a worldview that privileges the literal over the metaphorical. It follows, then, that imposing too lofty a narrative, or any narrative, for that matter, on Hopper's works, is to do his carefully constructed oeuvre a disservice.

Venturing cautiously in interpreting work like Hopper's proves particularly useful as paintings like Cape Cod Morning obscure as much as they reveal. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Mark Strand writes that, in Hopper's hands, "moments of the real world, the one we all experience, seem mysteriously taken out of time. The way the world glimpsed in passing from a train, say, or a car, will reveal a piece of a narrative whose completion we may or may not attempt." What this view of the artist's work obfuscates, though, is the meticulous construction of works like Cape Cod Morning. Indeed, Hopper himself attested to the careful execution of these works, an intention that involved as much elaboration as it did observation. In Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography, Gail Levin writes that the artist sought "the esthetic confluence of that 'something inside me and something outside...to personalize the rainpipe.'"

Of the woman in Cape Cod Morning, too, reality is so abstracted as to present not a woman gazing out the window, but a figure gracefully removed from the world. Indeed, Strand asserts that "the women in Hopper's rooms do not have a future or a past. They have come into existence with the rooms we see them in." To assign too personal a meaning to any of these figures, then, is to belie their staged, cinematic like, construction.

Perhaps, as evidenced in Cape Cod Morning, as it is in a great many Hopper works, the ambiguity of these paintings is their very strength. In his 2012 Smithsonian American Art Museum's Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture in American Art, Kevin Salatino asserted that "when [Hopper] is cryptic, he is cryptic in the most interesting way." To be sure, the artist's masterful ability to render the momentary, or seemingly momentary, is a talent that is unmistakably his. The task, then, is to dispense with ad hoc narratives and to appreciate in Cape Cod Morning the subtle play of light on the wall, deceptively discrete as it might be.

Related Artworks


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • FFS Friday - Emergency Tribe

    I've mentioned before that I feel alone most of the time, like I don't have a tribe. Over the last few weeks I've come to realise that whilst I don't have an... Read more

    12 hours, 28 minutes ago by   Glossqueen
    HAIR & BEAUTY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Joshua’s 10 Most Listened to Albums of 2018 – Pop/Rock!

    Joshua’s Most Listened Albums 2018 Pop/Rock!

    I listened to a lot of fun music in 2018, some of it brand new, some of it holding over from years past, and some really in a kind of rediscovery way. And as... Read more

    21 hours, 13 minutes ago by   Phjoshua
    LIFESTYLE, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Video: Backpacking Sequoia National Park in California

    Video: Backpacking Sequoia National Park California

    Sequoia National Park is one of my favorite parks in the entire U.S. system. It is an utterly spectacular wilderness that has a lot to offer visitors,... Read more

    The 14 December 2018 by   Kungfujedi
    OUTDOORS
  • Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

    Friday 14th December: Jane Hales

    One of my favourite stories about Evelyn de Morgan is when her sister, Mrs Anna Stirling visited the Russell-Cotes at Gallery and saw their massive painting... Read more

    The 14 December 2018 by   Kirsty Stonell Walker
    CULTURE
  • Give The Tennis Gift That Keeps On Giving: Court Crate

    Give Tennis Gift That Keeps Giving: Court Crate

    I only know one person who actually enjoys spending hours (and hours, and hours…) at crowded stores in search of the best deals on tennis-y Christmas gifts…yeah... Read more

    The 14 December 2018 by   Jen Campbell
  • Gifts For The Beauty Lover–No Matter What Your Budget Is

    Whether your shopping for your mom who wants a luxurious facial serum, a friend who loves nail polish, or your girlfriend who asked for a new blush... Read more

    The 14 December 2018 by   A Girl In La - Style Blog
    DIARIES, LIFESTYLE
  • Adjusting Obsessions

    Adjusting Obsessions

    Things are going to be quite different around these parts going forward. Obsessions have adjusted and I figured it was time to update my blog to match my curren... Read more

    The 14 December 2018 by   Seliharris
    SOCIETY

Magazines