New York Cinema

Edward Hopper • Painting, 1939, 81.9×101.9 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Realism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1939
Size: 81.9×101.9 cm
Artwork in selections: 59 selections

Description of the artwork «New York Cinema»

The author of the painting “The New York Movie Theater” is an iconic illustrator and painter of the New World, one of the founders of American realism - Edward Hopper. The work was created by the master in 1939: this is the period of his great creative activity, when the artist finally received the coveted recognition.

An instant from the life of the New York cinema was captured on the canvas. Compositionally, the work is divided by the vertical wall that separates the cinema from the exit. A film is shown on the left side in a half-empty room. Few viewers are absorbed in the plot of the movie drama. In the right part we see curtained curtains exit onto the stairs, which has a girl-captain. She froze in a bored pose, leaning against the wall. The golden hair of a young woman shines under the light of an electric sconce. For the tenth, and maybe the hundredth time, waiting for the end of the film, the cinema employee looks alienated, immersed in her own thoughts.

The model for the image of the heroine of this picture, as well as for many other works of Hopper, was the wife of the artist - Josephine (Joe). An artist, she was a companion to Edward all their dramatic married life, which lasted for almost 42 years. Joe herself recalled that her watercolor “Cinema - Gloucester” aroused her husband’s interest in sketches of cinemas. Allegedly under the influence of this particular work, Hopper made dozens of sketches of New York cinematographs, which he often visited. As a result, for his painting, the author came up with all the interior decoration of the cinema, right down to the picture on the carpet.
“When I don’t feel the need to paint, I go to the cinema for a week or more. I’m a real movie fan! ” (E. Hopper)
The scene shown by the artist from the life of the cinema is beyond the scope of one frame. The plot of the picture is based on the opposition: two worlds and two states. On the one hand - a semi-dark cinema, where the audience was absorbed, carried away by the short-lived world of dreams and illusions. On the other hand, a static figure of an employee of a cinema, symbolizing the real world, in which man’s eternal companions are loneliness and boredom. The illuminated figure of the chapel-dancer balances a darkened room with spectators and a luminous screen. While the audience is experiencing a film story, time has stopped at the chaplainer. The alluring world of sweet dreams and hopeless reality.

One of the features of the work of Edward Hopper is not only his "multiplied", and sometimes hard realism, but also a unique approach to the choice of plot. The author prefers to portray randomly cropped fragments of buildings where there are bends, corners or huge windows. In contrasting lighting, the usual details of facades and interiors become more than just decorations. Light also plays a key role in his work. The artist directs him to his characters, which makes their complex emotional state even more distinct.

Often the heroes of Hopper's paintings are closed and tense. At the same time, they are seized with melancholy, indifference, they are closed and seem to be in a soundless cocoon “out of emotions”, like this employee in the “New York Cinema”. The author has emphasized the frozen alien state of the heroine, placing her in the brightest place on the canvas. Although the artist showed a movie theater in which the audience watches a fascinating film, the impression of the picture is formed under the influence of the emotional state of a lonely girl-capella.

Edward Hopper himself was reputed to be reserved and laconic. The hopeless loneliness of man in modern society is one of the leitmotifs of most of the painter's works. Today, Hopper's paintings have become classics. This work is stored in the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Author: Galina Penchkovskaya