Edward Hopper was an artist who did not want his paintings tagged with ulterior meanings. He tended to view the critical profession with suspicion and doubt. When critics commented on the stark “loneliness” of his subjects—gas stations on deserted country roads, bleak Victorian houses on the opposite side of railroad tracks, men and women isolated in characterless hotel rooms—Hopper objected. As Gail Levin notes in her highly informative monograph, Hopper’s Places, the taciturn Hopper responded by saying “the loneliness thing is overdone.” He was, however, often ambivalent and sometimes furtive about expressing his opinions. On another occasion, answering the same charge, he commented: “It’s probably a reflection of my own, if I may say, loneliness. I don’t know. It could be the whole human condition.”

When partisans tried to...


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