Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Lately Manhattan sunlight has blinded me. I'm still a relative newcomer to the city, and this luminescence is taking me by surprise. Why the hell can't I see the curb? How do people avoid getting run over by errant cabs? How am I supposed to walk home? Is this all a side-effect of my spending too much time indoors?

The thing is, in movies etc, Manhattan is always dim. Watching Sex in the City or (more to the point) a Hopper painting, you'd think it was a city of the occasional spotlight, the dark corner, the lonely yet crowded boulevard. I think Hopper helped create this darker Manhattan, and that he stands as a progenitor of noir, a harbinger of shadows.

And yet, despite his deceptive palate, Hopper got it right. It turns out the sun is just as isolating as the darkness. So Sixth Avenue is to me solitude's supernova. No wonder I'm blind. If you can paint loneliness, you know Manhattan.


Dawn Coyote said...

I saw the Hopper installation at the Chicago Art Institute two weeks ago, was thinking of writing some paragraphs about that and some other stuff, but life interrupts my reverie with massive and astonishing inconveniences.

Hopper used a lot of shadow, yes, but he still somehow managed to make his cityscapes and his subjects look bleached out, desiccated, and ancient, even in the bloom of youth.

He really captured the future, I think, boxing us all into shadow and light and windows and rooms. It reminded me of how much time I spend boxed into my computer screen, isolated like one of his subjects, alone in a crowd that will never look directly at me.