Isolation in Hopper

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Isolation in light and shadow

The painting “New York Movie” is an incredible painting with significant use of light and shadow and the contrast of warm and cool colors. It’s not just a painting of a nicely dressed lady in a theater. It’s very intense and strong. Edward Hopper defines the isolation of urbanites by the design of this painting. The arrangements of figures and settings capture the moment of “not belonging”. By the composition, contrast of colors and the use of light and shadow, it perfectly defines the loneliness and helpless, of both the individual and the public.

This painting sure gives a strong first impression, but why? When we look closely, there are many surprises hidden in this painting. Only a few painters have the guts to separate a painting into two parts by putting a block right in the middle. Hopper is one of them. One is the audient in seats; the other one is the lady in the blue dress. The wall here is a symbol of estrangement of people living in the city. Even though they all live in the same city, there are always gaps between people that cause the feeling of not belonging. The lady in the blue dress here is an individual, but at the same time she’s also one of them. The empty seats here symbolize the empty space of our feelings. It’s never filled, no matter how many times we walk in a theater, how many shows we see.

New York Movie contains both warm and cool colors, in order to expresses the loneliness of the lady. The best examples are the color red and blue. In this painting, the lights on the ceiling on the right are red; the curtains are red. The dress of the lady on the right is blue. The yellow- light and wall, is the transition. The reason why Hopper used primary colors here is to emphasizes two extreme feelings of human being. Most of this painting conveys a warm feeling except the blue dress. In my opinion, red and blue each represent fear and hope. These two colors freeze the moment on the canvas. At the same...
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