Hopper over the Top

New York Pavements at the Chrysler Museum

Edward Hopper has tortured me for many years.

Some of his paintings serve as bedrock leitmotifs for my entire pilgrim existence.

…But now, “New York Pavements.” Never seen, nor heard tell of it before.

What is the man trying to do to us? When you add wind; when you add off-centeredness and obscurity; when you put a child into this Hopper lens…

His other paintings enclose us in the jail-cell of modern urban solitude. But the sun shines in at the edges, or the night air has some freshness of dawn. The gauze that encloses the world is permeable.

“New York Pavements,” on the other hand, skewers us under a pitilessly overcast sky. And it’s cold. And…Why? why? my God, why do we roll perambulators down the street?

Walter Chrysler, Jr., bought “New York Pavements” in 1976. Did he buy it in order to have a Hopper in his collection? Or did he buy it because he wanted this Hopper in his collection? Did Chrysler catch the over-the-top Hopperness of this one?

One thought on “Hopper over the Top

  1. Father Mark,

    Borrow a kid (preferably an awake and alert little boy, say six months old) and try it sometime, a cold, leaden-sky day, with the cityscape all around. But, don’t look at the pavement; and don’t rush homeward. Look up and tell the little boy of each change in the skyscape. Remark on each person passing by; if possible, engage them in conversation — including the little boy (warning, do not try this in New York City, elsewhere please; we want you to survive the experience).

    I’ll admit that part of what made this experience for me was the fact that the boy was my first grandson — but, I’d do it in a trice with any other kid.

    LIH,

    joe

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