11. Hopper’s most common subject was the solitary figure. A projection of his personal introspection, the artist frequently returned to images of lone figures, most often women, within a windowed interior setting. Often misinterpreted as a symbol for his own feelings of loneliness, these figures more likely represent Hopper’s preference for quiet and thoughtful self-examination.
12. His wife, Josephine Nivison, was his favorite model and was largely responsible for his initial success. By the time the couple married in 1924, Jo was a successful artist and actress in her own right. In 1923, she was invited to show six of her watercolors in a group exhibition of American and European artists at the Brooklyn Museum. She suggested that the curators also consider Hopper’s work. At her recommendation, the curators agreed to show six of Hopper’s watercolors. After the exhibition, the Brooklyn Museum became the first institution to purchase one of his watercolors – significantly, this was only Hopper’s second sale of his work. Jo was Hopper’s favorite model and posed for him for the remainder of his career.
13. Hopper had a strong interest in the work of Edgar Degas. In 1924, Jo presented him with an elaborate book on the French artist. His works from the 1920s and onwards showcase a clear understanding of Degas’s compositional devices, characterized most markedly by severe cropping, extreme diagonals, and uncommon visual perspectives.
14. He was fascinated by American vernacular architecture. Hopper’s interest in American architecture began during his childhood and persisted throughout his career. In choosing which buildings to paint, he often focused on their abstract forms rather than on their obvious visual beauty. He repeatedly evaluated the merits of cities he visited based on their architectural qualities.
15. Hopper was a lifelong lover of literature and poetry. As a young boy, he discovered English classics and French and Russian translations in his father’s library. In his adulthood, he indicated a fondness for Paul Verlaine, Marcel Proust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Robert Frost and Henrik Ibsen.
16. He carried a quote from Goethe in his wallet. This quote, which he referenced habitually, served as the fundamental basis for his own artistic goals: “The beginning and end of all literary activity is the reproduction of the world that surrounds me by means of the world that is in me, all things being grasped, related, recreated, molded and reconstructed in a personal form and an original manner.”
17. Hopper lived modestly in a 4th floor walk-up. Despite his later financial success, Hopper chose to live unassumingly in a top-floor apartment at 3 Washington Square North in Manhattan. He lived and worked there from 1913 until his death in 1967. Even in his old age, Hopper carried buckets of coal up the four flights of stairs for the stove that heated his studio.
18. He loved inexpensive diners and lunch counters. Always conscious of the changing tides of success, the Hoppers were frugal in their spending. They shopped for most of their clothes at Sears and Woolworths, which they often wore until threadbare, and cooked their meals from cans. More frequently, they chose to eat out at inexpensive diners and lunch counters across the city. The couple’s only splurges were on books and tickets for the theater and the cinema.
19. Hopper was infatuated with film and often went on week-long movie binges. He once remarked, “When I don’t feel in the mood for painting, I go to the movies for a week or more.”3
20. Alfred Hitchcock modeled the famous house in Pyscho (1960) off of Hopper’s House by the Railroad (1925, Museum of Modern Art, New York). His art, which often alluded to the cinema and film noir, has been a significant inspiration for generations of filmmakers including Hitchcock, Wim Wenders, David Lynch and Terrence Malick.
21. Hopper is often referenced as a significant inspiration for contemporary photographers. The artist’s quiet contemplation of quotidian subjects and his penetrating study of the psyche are clearly referenced, both consciously and unconsciously, in the photographs of Gregory Crewdson, Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Stephen Shore, Nan Goldin, and many others.