Seeing Things (8): People in the Sun by Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper, People in the Sun, 1960

This is the eighth in a series of personal observations about how people experience and explore museums. Take a look at Howard's other blog posts on the subject.

People in the Sun shares that quality often found in other paintings by Edward Hopper—of people occupying the same scene but often looking like they belong to separate worlds. For instance, they could be in one of Hopper's movie theaters, waiting for the show to start, or finish. Here, five people in deck chairs are facing the sun, three look ahead, one in a brown suit and blue ascot (whom I'll call the poet) looks down at his book, and the fifth, a woman with sun-blonde hair, is blocked by the person in front of her. These people in the sun sit on chairs on top of what appears to be a concrete slab and, except for the poet, stare at the blue hills nearby which undulate as if they were ocean waves. They occupy the left side of the painting, leaving nature—clouds, hills, dry grass—alone on the right.

Hopper's world is often a melancholic place, and this one too, has a kind of Sunday lull to it. Still, the people seem content (well, four out of five), the sun warms their faces, and the world spins quietly on its axis.

Hear more about People in the Sun.

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