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People in the Sun

1960 Edward Hopper Born: Nyack, New York 1882 Died: New York, New York 1967 oil on canvas 40 3/8 x 60 3/8 in. (102.6 x 153.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1969.47.61 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, North Wing

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People in the Sun

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In Edward Hopper's People in the Sun, five men and women sit on a terrace beneath a vast blue sky. Stark contrasts and cool light emphasize the eerie expressions, frozen poses, and formal attire of the visitors. Hopper distilled his memories of tourist destinations in the American West to create a scene that is strangely familiar but nowhere in particular. The precisely staggered deck chairs and bands of color indicating mountains, sky, and grass create an abstracted environment that veers between a real view and a stage set, as if Hopper were replaying a silent film of a family vacation. People in the Sun suggests a crowd of tourists who feel obliged to take in a famous scenic view, but do so with little pleasure. The canvas may reflect Hopper's discomfort in the West, where he found himself unable to paint with his usual enthusiasm when confronted by the harsh light and monumental landscapes.


Figure group

Landscape - mountain

Landscape - weather - sun

Object - furniture - chair

Recreation - leisure - reading


paint - oil

fabric - canvas