Hopper: America, loneliness and car

Active in the first half of the last century, Edward Hopper is known for his portraits of loneliness in contemporary American life: paintings without a specific time frame, depictions of the human soul and everyday places. In almost all his works the eye passes through the outside and inside of the protagonists and places without noticing them. Rare are his paintings in which an entrance, a window, or that the setting is not a room, or a motel room, or a desolate night bar.
In the 1957 painting, Western motel, the large window that lets in so much light reveals to us the boundless landscape of his America: mountains, plains and roads. The roads, however, are empty; a single bright green car is parked outside the motel and occupies the center of the painting along with the lone female character. Like the woman, the car is also extremely elegant, of classic 1950s American design there is everything, round headlights and rounded hood included. The scene portrayed is uncluttered and almost impersonal: inside the room the walls stained a drab green, a lamp, a red armchair, a table, suitcases. But Hopper's brush seems to tell us much more: in the woman's gaze leaks a strong interiority and thanks to the presence of the car we are prompted to ask: Where is she going? Has she just arrived? Is she traveling alone? Who is she looking at?"I don't paint what I see, but what I feel," Hopper declares. What it feels like to enter this work could be asked of lucky visitors to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, which between Oct. 26, 2019, and Feb. 23, 2020, hosted a full-scale reconstruction of the painting. The room was bare but the details were all there, including the view of the landscape and the green Buick. During the day it could be admired as an installation, but at night it was allowed to sleep inside making the work come alive. According to exhibition curator Leo G. Mazow, this experience should give the feeling of being the undisputed protagonists of our lives and being able to take advantage of all the opportunities that come our way. Margot Boyer-Dry of the New York Times, who was invited to spend a night in the room, called it ideal as a selfie setting.
In Portrait of Orleans, a painting from 1950 and housed at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Hopper expresses all the characteristics of his painting style: well-delineated forms in bright landscapes with a composition built from a cinematic point of view and an aura of eerie tranquility. On the canvas he has depicted an everyday scene, the sign of a gas station and a traffic light can be seen in the foreground on the right, a series of colorful buildings is depicted in front of dark and gloomy trees, and in the background a car drives along the road in the distance like a shadow. The car has no color, no distinguishable model; it is an archetype that still, after more than 70 years, makes it modern and contemporary. Other automobiles are present in the painting, stationary at one-third of the work, as stationary is the city of Orleans, uninhabited and melancholy.The glimpses that the artist presents to us are always real and without embellishment for this reason what we see in his works allows us to understand the America of his time, which he sees as torn between the melancholy of a past time and the possibility of a future one. Cars for Hopper are a symbol of inexorable progress that has driven individuals apart causing them to become lonely. 
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