Edward Hopper, Night Windows, 1928
Edward Hopper’s paintings have defined our idea of the modern urban world. In sites of everyday drama, be it a cafe, an apartment or shop front, he offers tantalising visions of closed-off lives.
Attending to private affairs in her apartment, the anonymous woman in Night Windows is unaware of any viewer’s gaze. The painting exposes the voyeuristic opportunities of the modern city, and the contradiction it offers between access to the intimate lives of strangers and urban loneliness and isolation. The city at night is a frequent subject in Hopper’s work of the late 1920s and early ’30s. Here, the composition of three windows allows for a dramatic setting of illuminated interior against dark night, a juxtaposition the artist identified as “a common visual sensation.”