Beyond the light, shadow, & loneliness of Hopper’s “Nighthawks”

For an image so often associated with loneliness, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) is strangely seductive. Solitary, hunched figures perch on stools along the slender countertop of an all-night diner. Bright overhead lighting casts a theatrical play of shadows on the deserted sidewalk outside, with the sleek, curving form of the diner’s long window intersecting with the grid of storefronts behind.

The famous painting offers a crucible of narrative potential, capturing the melancholic romance of city life: its endless possibilities—and inevitable failures—for connection.

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