Loneliness and Edward Hopper
Andrea Basuroski on finding meaning through changing perspectives.
As an introverted, single child from a reserved household, I was familiar with both boredom and loneliness. But it never overwhelmed me. Maybe it was the added stress of uncertainty and countless other problems created by the pandemic, but there were periods when I really struggled. One way I kept myself from slipping was art.
Let’s go back a year and a half to my first trip to New York City. Our stay was only three days long and I wanted to experience as many New York attractions as possible. One of the things on my bucket list was, of course, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had only three hours to explore, so I missed much of what the Met had to offer. However, I remember seeing a painting of a fairly simple-looking man sitting in his office. It paled in contrast to the grandiose Renaissance pieces.
Nothing of interest, I thought.
Flash forward to the middle of the pandemic. I came across Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. It resonated with me. Not only that, somehow it seemed familiar, I just couldn’t figure out why. I looked through the rest of Hopper’s paintings. Despite placing his figures in different settings, they all came across as detached. Melancholic. And there it was—the painting from the Met—also known as Office in a Small City. I felt a rush of exhilaration. A year and a half after I saw this random painting amidst hundreds of others in an overcrowded museum, I finally understood it. The middle-aged man was sitting at a desk and staring out of this unusually large window like he had no idea what to do—that was me. Edward Hopper, a man long dead, knew what was going on in my head. He painted pure loneliness, but it made me feel seen.
Andrea Basuroski is a high schooler from North Carolina who appreciates all forms of art and uses it as an escape.
Edward Hopper was born in Nyack, New York in 1882. He worked as a Realist painter and printmaker. It is speculated that the inspiration for Nighthawks may have come from Earnest Hemingway’s short story “The Killers.” Hopper died in his New York studio in 1967.