Eighty-eight

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Cape Cod Morning

1950 by Edward Hopper
National Museum of American Art, Washington

One of the most distinctive aspects of Hopper’s art is the light that appears to stream across every painting. The quality of light is always acute; bright and encompassing it brings with it the atmosphere of a time of day. Dominating, it bathes the subject in a well-lit time scale; we are given the haze of yellow late afternoon, orange sunsets of early evening or, as in this painting, the overwhelming sunshine of early morning. The first light streams from the East, casting shadows across the slatted wood and bay window, dramatic in the contrast from bleached white to shadowy grey, golden on the wood inside the room. To match this euphoric celebration of light the central figure leans out of the window, immersing herself in the morning, her face lit in its glory, dramatic shadows cast across her neck. Hopper’s treatment of light allows us to empathise with her feeling; we too are thrown into the light of her day. Hopper’s style, bold blocks of colour, is especially effective in capturing this quality of light; there is no gentle tonal blending, but instead an angular casting of shadow. Boldly American, Hopper captures his subjects as bright light does.

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