To live in an Emotionally Rarefied Air of Instrumental Urbanism Impregnated by Dry Dreams of Super-success

Edward Hopper, “People in the Sun” (1960)

People depicted here by Hopper cannot just relax in the sun. Instead, they project to the situation of taking sun their rigidities and stresses, and their business oriented energies over-stimulated by science fiction – poetry of entrepreneurial world. In their solemnly frozen poses we feel their unconscious intention of taking trip… to the sun – we see that they are as though physically moving/traveling towards the sun while sitting in a kind of starship (may be, with a dream of starting a business there of getting some of the sun’s “natural resources”).

Hopper humorously emphasizes his generic characterization of landscape – nature by itself is not important and not interesting for these people who perceive it like the executives or engineers of mining company. What is of utmost importance, what makes sense for them is not the present but the future. The guy with a book looks as if he is reading not a book but a manual or a catalog.

The dryness of nature makes people’s shadows more alive than their figures and faces, and corresponds to aesthetic insensitivity of their souls. But it is not only the people we see who like chess pieces “passively” and mechanically move ahead, but an inanimately geometrical world of a “civilization” that advances into a nature which already looks like a mural painting framed by the side of the building and by the margin of the sharp-edged stony open terrace.

Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun” (1952)

Looking at this woman in her ascetic bedroom we feel that she is not just looking out through the window or giving herself to the sun, but rather is experiencing something else. Hopper consciously, no doubt, is not referring to the presence of a glass window at all, and this makes the border between the two spaces: inside and outside, dissolve – she looks outside as if from a cave. We observe here, it seems an extreme condition of extraversion when only what is outside us is perceived as giving you a life, identity and being. And if you are without this outside you don’t know who you are, you don’t feel yourself at all. The external world then functions like a kind of a magic mirror that secretly reflects you masked under what we perceive from outside. You recognize yourself only as an echo of an external world.

The woman in the painting gives herself to the window like to her habitual and domineering lover. The psychological feature concomitant to this extreme need in externality (like newborn‘s need in mother’s breast) is a drastic impoverishment of the internal world. To depend so much on the external world means a primordial – axiomatic conformity and the absence of personal responsibility for our actions when the very organization of life in a society is perceived as a command to unconditionally follow its “commandments” and values.

The anonymous interior of the bedroom signifies the empty shell of the non-existent internal world. It consists of naked walls, a vast but minimalist mattress with piously bluish sheets, and mute opening to the world of the city that is depicted as consisting of a generalized sky, sunlight suspended in the air and a part of a monstrous building that can be a factory, a prison or a combination of both (as a more complex metaphor of what came to be the urban space for the mass Americans in the middle of 20th century).